Woman refuses to take extra workload off pregnant colleague - is she wrong?

PHOTO: The Straits Times

While pregnancy can be the most beautiful time in your life, it can also be extremely taxing on your mind and body. From the horrible morning sickness and tiredness to always feeling bloated, there will be times when you can’t manage everything on your own.

It becomes all the more challenging when you are career-driven and working full-time. 

It is only natural that you will need help. But the challenge is whom should you ask for help and if the person will be comfortable taking on the additional workload. 

One woman recently posted on Reddit about being asked to take on the workload of her pregnant colleague while she’s off work for a month. However, the idea didn’t exactly excite her. 

Is it wrong to refuse the extra workload of my pregnant colleague?

PHOTO: Pixabay

The woman wrote in her post, "I have been working at the company for two years. My co-worker (let’s call her Liddy) had just announced she is eight weeks pregnant (first pregnancy), had been going through horrible morning sickness."

"Liddy requested a month of unpaid leave to help her get through her first trimester. HR allowed it because it was a 'legit reason' [sic].

"The pregnant lady was also asked to find someone to take over work for her while she was on leave," she mentioned. “Liddy had suggested to them that I take over her work while she takes her leave. When HR approached me with the suggestion, I refused it.” 

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While people reading her post might think of her as inconsiderate and inhumane, the Reddit user gives her reasons for refusing to help the pregnant colleague.

She puts her point across bluntly, “It is not my problem that she wanted to get pregnant and all, even if I am happy for her. She could have easily work [sic] from home, or get her assistant to do it for her. Bear in mind that I would not get paid extra for doing her work, it will just be me doubling my workload for the same pay. Now HR can’t legally force me to take it, so that’s why they couldn’t do much about it.”

After this woman refused the offer, Liddy was "pissed off" at her.

The pregnant lady also tried to turn a few of their coworkers against the woman. The user was called an “a****** for not being 'considerate' or 'helpful' or 'a team player'". 

The Reddit user then asked netizens if she was really the bad person for refusing her pregnant colleague's request.

Who’s fault is it anyway?

PHOTO: Screengrab/reddit

Many female users commented on this post because they know that being pregnant and working full-time is indeed a challenge. But they also agreed that there was one villain here — and it was not the woman nor her pregnant colleague.

A user shared, “Managing personal load is not their job. It was wrong to pit the employees against each other as an HR solution.”

Another agreed, reasoning HR was also in the wrong “for refusing to provide any additional pay for the extra work they want to be done. Liddy’s leave is unpaid so the money is there.”

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Another user felt that it was no one but the company’s fault. She wrote, “You’re lashing out at her, she’s lashing out at you when both of you should be angry with the company. It’s like two women tearing each other apart because the guy was cheating and lying. The company is pitting the two of you against each other to solve the labour issue instead of taking care of its responsibilities.”

However another said, “Liddy wasn’t the bad person at first. After all, she is forfeiting her pay with no pay leave to deal with her pregnancy issues. But she turned into a bad person for trying to strong-arm and manipulate you into taking her work for no extra pay, even badmouthing you to others.”

What is your opinion on the entire incident? If you were in this woman’s shoes, would you be okay taking the additional workload without extra pay? 

Working through pregnancy is a challenge

We understand that a woman’s body goes through extreme changes during pregnancy. These are not just physical but also emotional changes. 

One challenge that you will face is staying healthy and productive on the job. You need to understand when your work is jeopardising your pregnancy. Having said that most women continue working during pregnancy. However, it is best to take the advice of your doctor before putting in the extra hours.

If you are pregnant and working full-time, we have you covered with these five practical tips to relieve stress. 

Pregnant and working full-time: Five tips for expecting mums

1. Identify your nausea triggers

Even though it is called “morning” sickness, pregnancy queasiness can hit at any time. It is therefore important to identify your nausea triggers. Avoid having foods you know that can make you feel nauseated. It can be milk or even your bowl of cereal. But, this doesn’t mean you need to stay hungry. This can further trigger nausea. 

Also, remember that plain crackers can be lifesavers when you feel nauseated. Keep a stash at work for easy snacking. For some of you, ginger tea might help to alleviate the nausea.

2. Keep your stress under check

There will obviously be stressful days at work and they will double when you are pregnant and working full-time. The trick lies in managing it well. 

Here are some quick tips which can help you control your stress at work:

  • Make a to-do list: Prioritise your tasks on a daily basis. This will help you to get an idea of the status of your work and the tasks that are pending.
  • Share: If you have an argument with your boss, share it with your friend or a co-worker. This will help you to reduce your stress levels. 
  • Take breaks: You need breaks to relax your mind. Try practising slow breathing exercises to calm yourself or simply go out for a quick walk. 

3. Create a comfortable set-up

As your pregnancy progresses, everyday activities such as sitting and standing can become uncomfortable. It is very important to follow few things to ensure that you are at ease.

  • If you have backaches, try placing a pillow on your chair as a support. It will give you some relief.
  • Ask your office to provide you with a stool. You can lift your legs on it. 
  • Try moving around every few hours to ease muscle tension. It will further help prevent fluid build-up in your legs and feet. 
  • Wear comfortable shoes with good arch support.
  • Wear loose-fitting comfortable clothes

4. Handle tiredness

You can combat your pregnancy tiredness while at work, by following a few of these recommendations.

  • Drink plenty of fluids. Keep a water bottle at your desk or in your work area and sip throughout the day.
  • Take frequent breaks: Even if you don’t want to get up from your seat, it’s okay. Just shut your monitor and close your eyes for 10 minutes. Or go and talk to your colleague. 
  • Eat properly: Fatigue during pregnancy can be a symptom of iron deficiency anaemia. But adjusting your diet can help. Choose foods such as red meat, poultry, leafy green vegetables, iron-fortified whole beans. Remember, to wash all your vegetables and fruits well before eating. Also, cook your meals thoroughly to avoid the risk of food contamination. 

5. Avoid late nights

Try to avoid late nights when you are pregnant. If you have pending work, go home and come back early the next morning to finish it. 

Pregnancy is the time when your body requires good rest. If you are working, it is understood that you are not able to get adequate rest throughout the day. So, at no cost, should you compromise on your sleep at night. 

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If your colleagues are planning to go for a drink after work, you can excuse yourself. There might be co-workers who will drag you to the party, but don’t force yourself into doing anything that might compromise your health.

It is perfectly okay to be blunt because, at the end of the day, you have a baby growing inside you. 

Always consult your doctor and don't be harsh on yourself. It is very important to understand that every pregnancy is different.

 If you are lucky, you won’t have many pregnancy discomforts, but it doesn’t mean that all pregnant women will go through the same experience. 

Don’t hesitate to ask for help because most offices today try to practice a pregnancy-friendly approach. 

This article was first published in theAsianparent.