I have 100% decided I need to leave my job. I am not just saying that to be dramatic; I have hit a point where I have zero respect for my bosses and the culture just isn’t one that will allow me to become the sort of person I want to be.
I have written before about some of the challenges I face at work. It is a nasty place where they expect you to leave your soul at the door (or preferably permanently discard of your soul) and work every hour under the sun for no thanks and average pay. For over a year now I have been thinking I needed to get out, but have been reluctant to move as I did not want to start a new job then manage to get pregnant (although part of me wondered if moving jobs would tempt fate!).
So the ramping up of their general shitness came when I told them I was pregnant two weeks ago. I hadn’t wanted to say anything until we’d passed the 12 week point, but they were putting me under so much pressure and working me so hard at a time when I am feeling extra exhausted and I felt I needed to say something to protect the health of my baby.
When I told my bosses they said all the “right” things (they’re au fait with employment law, so know better than to be silly in this regard) but instantly told me I would be going on secondment two days a week to a big, challenging client. On the face of it this sounds fine (it’s actually a brilliant opportunity), but the secondment would involve over 4 hours of commuting (and a difficult commute at that – lots of changing trains etc) and I would be expected to continue to cover all my own matters at the firm (so five days’ worth of normal work done in three days, plus two days doing a new type of work, plus two days of commuting 4+ hours).
I don’t think I was singled out to do the secondment because I’m pregnant, but they’re certainly keen to push me to the max and get every penny out of me now, with total disregard for my health. I explained my concerns about the commute, and explained that I had recently moved from doing 4 hour daily commutes to just over 2.5 because those commutes had nearly killed me and that I was worried how I would cope with the commute now that I’m pregnant. All of this just fell on deaf ears and they wouldn’t even contemplate putting me up in a hotel for the night in between. To put this in context, if booked early a nearby hotel would cost £45/night. My boss regularly stays in £250+ hotels (on the firm) for social reasons.
As I had been working long hours lately (well, always) I explained that I really needed to be mindful of my hours and getting plenty of rest. Since then, I was told that I needed to pick up a “two hour job” after I got back from hospital one night. I started that job at 5pm and finished for the night at 10:30pm. I then ended up working on it until 11pm on the Friday night and working several hours over last weekend. As a result of this, along with my other workload, I got quite poorly last weekend. It was nothing serious, but I’m 100% sure I would not have felt so ill if I’d been getting proper rest.
At the start of this week I really struggled with work and by Tuesday I couldn’t even get out of bed. This was obviously exacerbated by the terrible news I received on Tuesday. By Wednesday I was still in no fit state to go to work. So I contacted the head of department and one of the other partners to say I would not be in and to inform them about L and to say that I would need to take a day or two of annual leave at quite short notice to go to the funeral.
Unbelievably, the other partner’s response to me not coming in was to tell me that I had urgent work to do and that I needed to get X and Y done before the next day (i.e. you are not allowed to be off sick). Even after I got these “urgent” pieces of work done (not urgent at all) she continued to pass on minor tasks that I needed to do “urgently”.
This is appalling enough, but her other response is frankly inhumane. She told me that I may not be able to go to L’s funeral because I may need to do a call to the client on a report we have been doing, as she is off skiing so can’t do it herself.
I actually got hysterical after that. L was one of my best friends and it is so important to me to make it to her funeral and to do that final act of friendship. She was a wonderful person and I need her family to know how important she was to me and, if she’s looking down, for her to know that her friend was prepared to drive 12+ hours to say goodbye to her. I actually cannot believe that someone has lost the plot to such an extent that she thinks that a client call (and a nice client at that, who would completely understand, not that that matters) should be prioritised over the funeral of one of my best friends.
So in that moment, I decided that I am out. I will not work myself into the ground for these monsters. At best, I will turn into one of them, and my family and friends deserve better than that. At worst, I actually think I will drop down dead one day as a result of the environment they create.
If things go to plan (and I am very aware that they may not), I will be going on maternity leave at the start of October. I am taking the full amount (possibly letting BT take some of my leave as paternity. A great introduction in UK law!) and I will go back for six months (the minimum I am allowed to go back for, without losing my enhanced maternity pay) then hand in my notice on the first possible date, even if I do not have another job to go to.
I cannot wait to leave that toxic place and be allowed to focus on my priorities.