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Pregnant Then Screwed - Your questions answered

Updated: Nov 17, 2023

On Wednesday the 4th October AXIS had the pleasure of hosting Joeli Brearley, the founder & CEO of Pregnant then Screwed and Mike Killeen, VP of operations for Serica Energy. The event was hosted by Susan Grayson, founder of Younique inclusion. The Full Video can be found on our Youtube - A Conversation with Pregnant then Screwed - AXIS - YouTube


Since then Joeli has returned to answer some additional questions asked on the day. We hope you enjoy them.

Do you find that the reaction to "Pregnant then screwed" is starkly different along the gender lines?

Oh yes. Mostly when I even say the words Pregnant Then Screwed, middle aged and older women give me a knowing look and nod in agreement, whereas many men look utterly flabbergasted and sometimes offended. I understand why, when someone isn’t at the sharp end of discrimination it is hard for them to understand, even if you explain the stats and the stories, if you haven’t lived it then you will never truly understand the many ways it can manifest and the impact it has on you.


During the pandemic companies were forced to operate with more flexibility, is there evidence this is good for business, and what do you think about the drive to go back to the office for the 'water cooler moments'?

There is a wealth of evidence that flexible working improves productivity, staff wellbeing and ultimately a company’s bottom line. There is also plenty of evidence that if you advertise the types of flexible working available when recruiting you will receive more applications, particularly from highly skilled women.

Since the pandemic, we have seen a spike in the number of people working from home but a decrease in other types of flexible working, which are often more important to parents. It appears that employers believe they are doing enough by enabling more people to work from home and therefore other types of flexible working are an unnecessary inconvenience.

More recently we are starting to see many employers drag their employees back into the office. Of course ,I understand that this is really complicated – not everyone wants to work from home, and many have jobs which prevent them from doing so. However, some big companies appear to be handling this in a way that is detrimental to their parent employees – giving little notice before demanding a return to the office or changing their working hours. Parents need childcare, or wrap around care, to be able to manage a change in working hours or location but this is excruciatingly expensive and most have really long waiting lists. We receive regular calls form parents who are forced to leave their job because new working regulations do not consider the issues and challenges they are experiencing. Ultimately, this is really bad for any business.


Do you have any data / ideas around why things like pay and promotion are stunted for women returning from maternity leave?

We know that the majority of new mums ask to work flexibly when they return, and usually they ask to work part time. Part time workers are, on average, paid £5 less per hour than full time workers and they are half as likely to be promoted.

There is also a well-documented bias towards pregnant women and new mums. They are seen as distracted and less committed than other employees.

Here is one study which shows how parental status impacts pay and rewards offered to different candidates: https://www.journals.uchicago.edu/doi/abs/10.1086/511799?journalCode=ajs

Other studies show that many people still believe that if a mother is at work, her children are suffering, and so they unconsciously sideline her at work. The opposite happens to men who become fathers as they are seen as responsible bread winners: https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0190657


Joeli, what's the most valuable piece of advice you can give to a woman hoping to start a family soon?

Have a conversation with your partner about exactly how you will share both the joy and the burden of parenthood, including taking parental leave. It will pay dividends.



One question 2 parts; Working in HR in a male dominated industry how can we look to encourage more men to take paternity and shared parental leave?

Firstly, you need to pay it at an affordable rate. Our data shows that men do not take paternity leave because they can’t afford to.

Secondly, you need to model it. Senior men within the organization should take paternity and shared parental leave and they should shout about it.

And part two how can we encourage and support new parents/mothers during maternity leave and with returning to the workplace that isn't purely focused around just simply increasing pay (as we have already increased this to 70% during the full leave)?

· Phased returns are really effective

· Mentoring from other women in the organization who are mothers and are in a more senior position

· Support with childcare costs or even creating onsite childcare which has been shown to save companies money over the long term and improve staff retention and wellbeing

· Really clear flexible working policies that enable parents to manage both their personal and professional obligations

· Some companies offer a breastmilk courier service so new mums can express milk and it can be taken straight to their baby in childcare

· Many new parents struggle with sleep so offering them support from a sleep professional can be hugely impactful

· Collect data on progression and retention of new parents – it will likely reveal things you didn’t previously know.

As a mum of two children who has been an agency worker for almost 10 years, on both occasions I had to essentially ‘forfeit’ my job to have my children. Quoted from the gov.uk website ‘You may be able to get Statutory Maternity Pay, but you cannot get Statutory Maternity Leave’. After my year off with both children, I had to find a new job. Is there anything being done to change this right for agency workers.

No, not right now, though the Labour Party are currently working on an employment Bill which would give all workers a day 1 right to sick pay, maternity and paternity leave and pay, an end to zero hours and many other changes. Obviously, they will need to be in power for this bill to go through Parliament



Thank you, we hope you enjoyed Joeli's answers. In addition if you have any issues, pregnant then screwed now has a specific Scotland branch which aims to deliver a Scotland specific strategy & help specifically Scottish parents, Pregnant Then Screwed, Scotland - Pregnant Then Screwed.






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