Pregnant & retrenched
What happens when you become a global economic downturn statistic while pregnant?
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Having a stable job certainly ranks high on my “right time to start a family” requirement list. But I guess it’s time to let go of the endless preggie shopping spree fantasy and kiss that luxuriously decorated nursery goodbye.

After recovering from the initial shock of being retrenched, I decided to do some research. The Basic Conditions of Employment Act explicitly states that an employer may not discriminate against, or dismiss, an employee because of their pregnancy. In my case it’s clearly because of the economic climate so I will not be paying a visit to the CCMA.

Job-hunt or UIF?

Now that all the paperwork and admin regarding my retrenchment is sorted, I am faced with a dilemma: should I look for another job or rather head straight for the UIF queue?

Instinctively, I feel that most companies will not hire a pregnant woman, especially in a demanding, mid-level position. What would be the point of hiring someone who will be off on maternity leave in a few months anyway?

But Rita Rodrigues, a Performance Manager at DAV Professional Placement Group, disagrees with me. She believes that quality companies see past the pregnancy and look at your skills and potential value. And she points out that any employer who does discriminate is simply not worth working for.

Which is reason enough to avoid the temptation of hiding your status until landing the job. Because if they are not comfortable hiring a pregnant woman then chances are they do not have many child-friendly policies in the work place. A serious consideration if you plan on being a working mom.

“The best thing a pregnant job-seeker can do, is research the companies she applies at very carefully. Speak to the HR departments and find out what their policies are on flexi-time and family responsibility,” advises Rodrigues.

She goes on to say that because the concept of child-friendly policies is a murky topic in the South African work place, in her experience most pregnant women change to a half-day or flexi-time job.

A half-day job sounded like the solution for me. But such positions are far and few between in my field so it would have to be some kind of admin job to tide me over. And after a visit to my local Labour Centre I discovered the amount that I would be paid by UIF versus the salary of a half-day admin job would basically be the same.

Personally, the UIF route seems the best option for me at the moment, as the benefit I receive will just about cover my expenses. This will allow me time to enjoy my pregnancy (minus the shopping sprees), prepare the house for the new arrival and carefully plan my post-baby career path.

The preggie job hunter

I am very intrigued to find out just how the job market responds to pregnant candidates. So I will continue to apply for full-time positions in my field, as is my constitutional right. I will fully accept defeat to a stronger candidate any day. But I have been a job seeker many times before and am therefore fully aware of my skills, abilities and hit-and-miss rate with landing jobs.
In the unlikely event that I’m fortunate enough to get hired then my financial worries will be over, I’ll have a promising career to look forward to post-baby and (after cancelling my UIF) I can happily embark on a guilt-free preggie shopping spree.

Know your rights if you’re pregnant and retrenched.

Is it fair to retrench a pregnant woman? Would you hire someone you knew was pregnant?

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