Archive for July 16th, 2007

Maternity leave

I really think that maternity benefits, specifically leave, should be standardised for all employed women. There are huge differences in the workplace as to the leave allowances provided by employers. I know that maternity leave has now been extended to 9 months but here we are just talking about statutory leave and pay not how employers, as individuals, offer different benefits to their employees.

At clinic on Thursday I saw a woman who I booked 6 weeks ago, she is a bus driver. When I booked her the company had taken her off driving duties and given her ‘desk duties’, sensible, caring company I decided. On Thursday I asked her what was happening to her now at work, I’m on Maternity Leave she replied. I immediately thought that, far from being a caring company, they were taking advantage of her pregnancy and seeking to save themselves money by forcing her to take leave too early. When I became all righteous about it she told me that what they have done is sign her off, on full pay, until she gives birth at which point her paid maternity leave starts, for a year. Wonderful for her, I would have thought an economic problem for the company, and a real kick in the guts for all those women who have equally demanding, often more physical jobs than her but who have to struggle on for as long as possible in their pregnancies so they can spend more time at home afterwards with their new baby. Here I’m thinking of examples like midwives who carry on working right until the end, I have literally been working with midwives whose waters have gone whilst they have been working and who have given birth before their shift ends. I’m not overly keen on ‘guidelines’ and dictates from quangos but I am thinking that perhaps there should be more equality as far as benefits to pregnant workers, every other ‘perk’ seems to be categorized and valued, why not deviations from a standardised practice?


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Packed weekend

Whilst we were in Jersey Son phoned and asked us if we wanted to go to the Air Tattoo at RAF Fairford. I love air shows, there is something about the power of the planes that grips me and has me grinning like a mad-woman. I asked him how much the tickets were, £32.50, each. He and partner could get their tickets for £16, something to do with the company he works for, but he was limited to 2 tickets at that price. With our finances slightly tight at moment I felt that we could do without that expenditure so told him that unfortunately we couldn’t go. He expressed his disappointment, especially as they were taking Jack and Amy with them who would then be spending the night with them. I chuckled. Jack and Amy are both lovely children, lively and generally well-behaved but when they are together they are a handful and they do wind each other up so the thought of Son and DIL having them on a longish car journey, all day at a crowded, noisy air show, and then all night conjured up a picture of chaos and frayed tempers. Anyway, by Thursday Son had managed, some how, to get 2 more ‘cheap’ tickets so Hubby and I were Fairford bound by 8am Saturday morning, complete with Amy. Journey, until we were 7 miles away, was great then we got into the queue to park. I’m not joking, I’m being horribly serious, 2 and half hours is how long we had to queue to park. Obviously we were not alone, there were thousands of us making friends, taking short breaks on grass verges, and watching far off airplanes cavorting about in the sky, even Jenson Button was sitting in his car, not the F1, trying to keep his cool in the most poorly organised approach to a major event that I have ever had the misfortune to be stuck in. If we could have turned around we would have, but we were effectively prisoners in a traffic jam. Thank heavens Amy was in an angelic frame of mind otherwise I might have completely lost the plot. As it was Son was getting out of his car with Jack and I was getting out of ours with Amy and we were having impromptu races up and down the road. If you have ever seen the REM video ‘Everybody Hurts’ you have a fairly good idea of what we could see when we looked inside the other cars. Once in the airshow it was noisy, very noisy but so exciting. Helicopters looping the loop and plummeting earthwards, then pulling up just as you thought you were about to witness an accident. The American Thunderbirds in their F16s soaring skywards at huge speeds to amazing heights, then swooping down and screeching past the crowd, afterburners blazing. Stealth was an eerie counterpart to these raging acrobats, when its black shape passed low, giving no warning of it’s approach, it seemed alien and though it did nothing extraordinary it appeared, to me, all the more powerful for that. Then came my favourites, the Red Arrows. As their distinctive red shapes appeared in formation Son and I turned to each other and exchanged huge grins, Hubby swung Jack up to sit on his shoulders and Son put Amy on his, my little tribe joined together in appreciation of a wonderful aerobatic show, Jack and Amy have now been introduced to another family tradition. Jack loved everything but I think the thing he will remember longest was just as we were leaving. We were walking past as the Italian Airforce were preparing to taxi out to start their display so we stopped to watch them leave. They pulled out one by one and were following each other down the apron  and as they drew level with us Jack waved at each of the pilots and all, except 2, waved back. I had a real lump in my throat as he was so pleased that these pilots, in their wow factor planes, had returned his greeting. They made a little boy really, really happy. Amy enjoyed herself but would take to her pushchair, obviously some kind of security thing, if a plane was too loud and she became our aerial spotter, always the first to see a plane approaching she would shout ‘Here he comes’ and clap her little hands, before putting them over her ears!

Sunday saw Hubby and I down at the South Coast to bury his Mum’s ashes with his Dad’s. It was a very short, little ceremony laying her to rest with her first love, they had married when she was 17, and it had been her wish that when she died she be reunited with her Paddy, now that wish has been fulfilled.

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