The Big R: the emotive business of jobloss while pregnant


Claire Jones-Hughes

Have you been made redundant whilst pregnant? How did it make you feel? Here Claire Jones-Hughes shares her experience of being made redundant whilst pregnant?

Dealing with the emotions of pregnancy is hard enough, throw facing redundancy and job uncertainty into the mix and you’ll be forgiven for panicking.

I won’t talk about maternity rights if you are being made redundancy while pregnant. There are a whole host of reliable sources on DirectGov (now known as & maternity action groups. Rest assured, there are mostly likely options and your statutory pay is protected up to a point. Any medium to large responsible company, should look for redeployment or offer outplacement support. This doesn’t take away the fact you are faced with an extra pressure while bringing a child into the world. When all your instincts scream mum in the last stages of pregnancy and first few weeks or months of baby’s life, it’s frustrating to find yourself in meetings and exchanging correspondence with HR.

Which is why this post is focussing on the emotional side. Plus it happened to me, recently. Returning to work after having my first child was not trouble free but I worked through the challenges. By the time I was pregnant with her sister, I felt settled and empowered in my job and company I’d been with for 12 years. You can imagine when the announcement of our office was made, I felt it was like having the rug pulled from under my feet. When you’re 6 months pregnant, the last thing you want to be dealing with is a massive life change, you’ve already got one on the way!

From that point onwards it was a journey of emotions, which looking back was a path I consider I was obliged to follow. Even if you’re in a secure position with maternity pay, a good package and plenty of career options in the long-term, there may still be a deep uncertainty looming over it. After all, you know deep down the fact remains, on paper, you will not have a job. Depending on what stage you are in the process, it may not help if I say, it is best to try not to panic. What may help is to remind yourself of the classic curve of change, embrace and work through each step.

Shock – how could this happen? Well it can. The most common statement made to me when I revealed I was facing redundancy is, ‘they can’t make pregnant women redundant’ which is factually incorrect. If you feel you’re being made redundant because you’re pregnant, then this could potentially be discrimination and you should seek legal advice. However, if there are legitimate business reasons for your position becoming redundant then being pregnant & on maternity could delay the end of your job at the firm but not prevent it.

Denial – it’s a mistake, there’ll be another job for me, they can’t make me redundant (see above). Don’t stew on this one, attend all the meetings and ask all the questions. Make sure you know all your options. If there’s a consultation, align yourself with the employee representatives to ensure they fully understand your position. Take all the information in, don’t react, you may not have to make a decision about anything at this point.

Anger – this could come out at the negotiation stage on packages & logistics. Try to remember this is not personal, it’s not a reflection on your or your work. It’s business.

Depression – this is where you do your sums. You’ll probably see with the help of some keen budgeting, friends or family, you could survive a little longer while looking for a job that offers work/ life balance with your new family.

Acceptance – for those familiar with the change curve, you will already be aware it’s possible to dart between the stages, like a game snakes & ladders! I believe acceptance comes in guises of small successes, a job interview, a leaving do, maybe signing on the dotted line. You may also have to deal with the fact, with a new baby, new job some other projects you were able to do while in your comfort zone of your old routine, may have to go on the back burner.

Integration – now here’s the thing. With a new family dynamic, whether it’s your first or subsequent children, I don’t think full integration ever really comes. To me you live on a cycle of acceptance and integration through each development stage of their young lives – if you’re lucky. Plus if you’re starting a new job, you’ll be riding the wave of change to your working environment, familiarising yourself with new processes, cultures and colleagues, potentially a whole new field of knowledge. It’s important to recognise, even record those moments when you feel you’ve achieved something so you can remind yourself during any wobbles of fear or insecurity.


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Discussion1 Comment

  1. I was made redundant whilst pregnant. Funnily enough it came a day after I told them. They said it wasn’t because I was pregnant. Not convinced at the time and not entirely convinced now. HOWEVER I did have a lovely boss, who managed to keep me on the payroll for a few extra months even though I had left for ‘Gardening Leave’ To be honest at the time I was so scared, I knew it would be hard to get another job whilst pregnant and also I didn’t want to bring my baby into a world of relying on benefits. Unfortunately, I didn’t get another job and was signed off sick due to health complications and had to rely on benefits until my MA kicked in. I was angry with my company at the time, but looking back now, they actually did me a big big favour. I get to spend my days with my son, watching him grow, teaching him, being there for all his major milestones. I wouldn’t of been able to do that, working up to 50 hours a week as a PA. So yes, being made redundant is a very scary thing, on its own, it’s even worse with being pregnant, but there are ways around it and lots of people/organisations to help you along the way :-)