I didn’t realise my new employee was pregnant – my business might fold’

A small business owner said that she faced going bust after her new employee went on maternity leave after just three weeks, and now any plans of making profit are out the window

A small business owner said she faced going bust after a new worker went on maternity leave just weeks after starting.

Sharing her story anonymously, the boss said that she had no idea the woman who she interviewed was pregnant, so it came as a shock when she announced the news just three weeks in.

She said the woman was now on maternity leave, which the boss knew was her right and didn’t begrudge it, but it now meant the company couldn’t expand and may not make a profit.

The boss took to Mumsnet to vent to other parents, asking if the woman was in the right to apply for a job at a small company when she knew she would be going on maternity leave.

The employer said: “Ok so I know I am being unreasonable but venting a little.

“I took on my first full-time employee in July this year. Three weeks in she disclosed that she is pregnant and is now off on mat leave.

“It’s an industry where recruiting is super difficult at the moment so getting a mat leave cover is likely to be practically impossible.

“I know it’s her right etc, and of course have treated her fairly and she will be returning whenever she chooses to return.

“But if I’m honest – it’s absolutely screwed our plans for any growth this year (on top of covid troubles).

“While I know it’s ‘right’ would you take on a job in a small business when pregnant?”

After sharing her predicament online, other Mumsnet users were quick to comment their opinion – saying the employer was in the wrong for even raising the issue.

One said: “Pregnant woman needs to work to pay the bills, shocker.”

While another said: “Ultimately women of childbearing ages need jobs, and if you ever take on any woman between the age of 20-40 you accept the possibility of her getting pregnant.”

And a third wrote: “To be honest, I’d have got rid of her in August when you found out she was pregnant, in her probationary period I’d have just said it isn’t working out.”

In the UK, eligible mothers-to-be can take up to 52 weeks’ maternity leave, split into two halves called ‘Ordinary Maternity Leave’ and ‘Additional Maternity Leave’.

The earliest that leave can be taken is 11 weeks before the expected week of childbirth, unless the baby is born early, and employees must take at least two weeks after the birth, or four if they’re a factory worker.