'When I told my bosses I was pregnant, they asked if I was keeping the baby'

Continuing a series, in which charity Pregnant Then Screwed share hidden stories of working women being discriminated against in lockdown

One woman writes about her employer's discriminatory behaviour (posed by model)
One woman writes about her employer's discriminatory behaviour (posed by model) Credit: Alamy

Suzy* was put on unpaid leave from her job in hospitality when she told her employer she was expecting. Here, she explains how the current crisis has devastated her - personally and financially

Covid has turned my life upside down. Before the pandemic, life was good, I was in a nice routine and getting back into work, following my maternity leave, was going well. A week prior to lockdown, I contacted my employers as I had discovered I was pregnant again and - in addition to my other children at home - had wider family health concerns, with some shielding. I was concerned that because I work in a small venue, I would be in close proximity to those who travel from all over the UK to events, including weddings. I was met with a stony silence.

Two days later, I received an email stating that due to my concerns I would be put on 12 weeks unpaid leave starting immediately. A week later, on a catch up call, I was asked if I intended to keep the baby. 

I sadly miscarried at eight weeks but didn’t discover this until at our 12 week scan, which I had to attend alone due to Covid restrictions. 

My partner works full-time but this immediate lack of income left us financially struggling. I had not been put on the payroll in time for either February or March which meant I was not eligible for furlough, and so I have not had an income for 10 weeks now. 

I have been in touch with my employers and it has been suggested that - due to hospitality being one of the last industries to return to work - there may not be a job for me once I have helped them get past the initial surge to get up and running again. It is cheaper for me to do a few hours here and there, as I am on a zero hours contract, instead of them asking the full time employees to return to work who are currently furloughed. None of this is making me feel valued or part of the team. 

I need to return to work for financial reasons, but we can’t now afford childcare. I am getting into debt in order to survive day-to-day. 

Long-term, I think my career will be affected. Primarily by loss of job but, long term, all venues may be hit in terms of events and marriages being cancelled if they cannot be held under the measures people desire. There are likely to be fewer roles for people like me. The way in which we work will also be hugely affected. Less contact and more process means a less emotive day, whereas usually that is the emphasis.

I am unable to sleep, everything is just so stressful.  I’ve been through a lot and the worries that accompany Covid and it’s impact have not helped. We have been devastated and it will take a long time to recover.

*Names have been changed

To contact Pregnant then Screwed with your story please email: ​[email protected]