This uncertainty is being felt by employees at all levels in all manner of organisations, both in the public and private sectors.
But, one group of employees seem to be feeling this uncertainty most acutely, given the number of questions that are posed on the Women24 Careers website – pregnant women.
In this day and age, with the need for many families to have two incomes, it is often necessary for the lady to work.
But, then she falls pregnant and is looking forward to the day that she goes on maternity leave, comes back to work after a few (usually four) months and takes up her position in the organisation again.
In many instances, too, single mothers-to-be are also looking forward to the coming days, having made all the necessary financial preparations.
And then – the organisation announces that it may need to retrench staff and the speculation, the office chit-chat, the doubts about the future, the indecision… and the constant wondering whether you, as the pregnant member of staff may be the one who is asked to leave… and is it because you are pregnant?
Firstly, and most importantly, the fact that you are pregnant should not (and may not) in way affect any decision regarding your continued employment with the organisation.
It is important to highlight that the Constitution, 1996 makes it very clear that a woman may not be discriminated against on the basis of her pregnancy.
The organisation may therefore not take a decision to retrench you on the basis of your pregnancy.
Secondly, the organisation is entitled to use any “system” for retrenching staff provided that it has engaged all the affected employees in comprehensive negotiation and, where applicable, has involved the unions.
This negotiation process is fundamental to the issues surrounding retrenchment and should be used to review and discuss the possibilities of retraining, redeployment, alternative employment, etc.
Thirdly, if retrenchment is a fact that you need to have to deal with, it is important that you must carefully consider and negotiate the retrenchment package that may be offered to you.
One of the issues that should be carefully negotiated, besides the financial aspect, is the medical aid benefits which you will enjoy after you have left the service of the company.
Many companies will provide medical aid cover for a period of time after the retrenchment process has been completed and this can certainly be negotiated with the company.
Fourthly, you may need to explore other career opportunities and you should ensure that your “marketing” document, your CV, is ready for utilisation. If you do not have one, now is the right time to draft one for yourself.
Keep away from the staid old "Name, address, telephone number, date of birth" type of CV – what you want is one that "sells" you in terms of the value-add that you would bring to an organisation, as well as the competencies that you have gained over the years.
I would like to refer you to the following websites where you will gain some insights and tips to prepare and draft, not only your CV, but also the covering letter which will accompany your CV when you apply for a position: Create a Magical CV. and
The Perfect Cover Letter.
Fifthly, it will also be a good idea to make contact with one or two of the better recruitment agencies – they will certainly be in a position to present your CV to suitable employers (even when you are pregnant or when you are ready to once again enter the job again).
They may also be in a position to provide you with some advice as regards your career options.
Finally, it is of course also important for you to make use of the networks that you have made over the years – it would be a good idea to keep contact with some of the key people with whom you have had contact or worked in the past and advise them of your availability once you are ready to return to work.
But, while all of this is going on and you are making preparations for a possible career change, it is good to remember that you are entering that most important job of all – motherhood.
Good luck – and with your pregnancy!
How has your pregnancy affected you in your work environment?