Friday, December 12, 2008

Part I (series on feminism)

Back in the day when I was a little less world-savvy I got pregnant (on purpose) and lost my job (not on purpose).

I'll try to be the least melodramatic I can, although that also means I will stifle my innate tendencies. Here goes.

I had a job in a restaurant. Started as a waitress (love that word, don't you? 'server,' it's benign replacement, fails to connect the colour of a waitress, saucy and snappy and streamlined efficiencies) and was promoted to office manager then day manager and then acting general manager.

The acting part was a little bit annoying, but I was told it was while my boss ironed out his own niche. He was the district manager, I was the acting general manager until he was certain that he wasn't promoting himself out of a job.

I got pregnant and went on maternity leave. That, for the Americans, is a government funded leave of absence that extends for a full year. It's not a choice, for employers, it's the law.

It's also the law that they have to give you your old job back at the end of it, but that is where it gets a little fuzzy. For some people.

Mid-way through I was told through the proverbial grapevine that the woman I had chosen to fill my leave was now gunning for my job. Full of trust and naivete, I scheduled a meeting with the chair of the board. Imagine my surprise when it didn't seem as clear cut to him, this law on giving me my job back.

"Do you have a contract? That says that you are the general manager?"

Appalled, I answered. "No, you know I don't. You also know [my boss] and you know that with him it was all on his word."

He seemed to mull this over. Stuck between a woman threatening to quit now, leaving them with a full-time gig for eight months till I came back, or screwing me and dealing with the consequences later, they opted for the latter.

"Well, if you don't have a contract...."


lotusloq said...

How rude! If it's the law, it's the law. I was thinking that it must be nice to get a whole year, but not if they don't let you come back at the end of it.

It works the other way too though. My husband is actually very good about this kind of thing. He's had a lot of women work for him, but there was this one woman working for him who got pregnant and went on maternity leave. He held her spot because she said she was coming back. When her maternity leave was over she came back and worked about 2 weeks and then quit. As I understand it she had been planning to do that all along. That's kind of rude too. I thought. He was without someone in that position for a long time with all the other people on his staff picking up the slack.

spinregina said...

Ah I know, it's a double edged sword. My parents own a business so I hear from their end how hard that part of it is. But the thing is, it's mandated here. It's the Law. It's what is Fair and Good, and I'll betcha that if these fine fellows have daughters they would consider this a travesty of justice.

I'm not sure what the fix is, but I think that you have to play fair. It all works out, though, better than we could ever expect, but I still think they are a bunch of a-holes. And for me to getoverit I have to write it out...write it out. I could do it in private, but then I would have to double write for this space and time is not free to come by these days....

Always you say useful things.