The Maternity Protection Law
The Maternity Protection Law covers pregnant women who recently gave birth or adopted a child and are working as employed persons, by ensuring:
- The right to maternity leave;
- Protection against dismissal and safeguarding seniority and promotion;
- Leave of absence for pre-natal examinations;
- Facilitating breast-feeding/nursing of child;
- The safety and health of pregnant women and women who have recently given birth;
- The right to maternity benefit.
An employed pregnant woman is entitled to maternity leave for 18 consecutive weeks, of which the period of two weeks before the week of confinement, the week of confinement and six weeks after the week of confinement, that is nine weeks in total, is compulsory for both the employer and the employed woman. In order to be entitled to maternity leave, the pregnant woman must produce in time to her employer a medical certificate stating the expected week of her confinement.
Where the confinement occurs after the expected week of confinement, the period of leave before the week of confinement is extended. If the confinement occurs earlier than the expected week of confinement, the remaining maternity leave is taken after the week of confinement, the total period of maternity leave of 18 weeks being thus secured.
An employed woman who has adopted a child under 12 years of age and who has notified this event to the Department of Social Welfare Services, is entitled to16 weeks maternity leave, provided that she had informed in writing her employer, at least six weeks in advance, of her intention to adopt a child and of the date of taking the care of the child.
In accordance with the Maternity Protection Law, the employer is prohibited from dismissing or giving notice of dismissal to an employed woman, from the time she has notified him of the fact that she is pregnant, by producing to him the relevant medical certificate, or of her intention to adopt a child, as the case may be. This prohibition is valid for a period of three months after the expiration of the period of maternity leave. The prohibition does not apply where:
- The employed woman is guilty of a serious offence or behaves in a manner that justifies the breach of the employment relationship;
- The business concerned has ceased operations or;
- The duration of the contract of employment has expired.
In case of dismissal of the employed woman during the period referred to above, the employer has to justify the dismissal in writing.
In accordance with the Termination of Employment Law, a woman whose employment is terminated because of pregnancy or maternity, is entitled, under certain conditions, to compensation payable by her employer.
The maternity leave cannot prejudice the seniority of the employed woman, her right to promotion or her right to the work which she performed before the commencement of the maternity leave.
An employed woman is entitled to be absent from work for pre-natal examinations, without prejudice to her salary, provided that such examinations need be carried out during working hours. However, she should give advanced notice to her employer and also produce the relevant medical certificate.
Where an employed woman is breast-feeding or nursing a child, she has the right to be absent form work for one hour daily, without prejudice to her salary, for a period of nine months after the date of confinement or adoption, as the case may be.
For the purposes of protecting the safety and health at work of pregnant women and women who have recently given birth, the Maternity Protection Law makes reference to the Maternity Protection (Safety and Health at Work) Regulations (R.A.A. 255/2002), made under the Safety and Health at Work Laws. Under these Regulations:
- Employers are obliged to assess any risks at work to the safety and health of employed women, women who have recently given birth and breast-feeding women, and take protection measures. Where the nature of the work involves any unavoidable risks, the employed woman must be transferred to another job. Where no alternative job is available, the employed woman is entitled to be absent from work as long as necessary, without prejudice to her remuneration. The above-mentioned obligations of the employer apply also in the case of night-work, subject to the production of a relevant medical certificate.
- No employer can require a pregnant or breast-feeding employed woman to perform any duties for which the risk assessment has revealed involvement of a detrimental to safety and health exposure to specific agents and conditions, such as work involving exposure of the employed woman to lead, mercury, pesticides and other chemical substances, work in pressurized chambers, work involving ionizing radiation etc.
More information about the subject of the safety and health at work is provided by the District Offices of the Department of Labour Inspection.
Section 9 of the Maternity Protection Law provides for a fine of €6.834 in case of conviction for violation of the provisions of the Law.
- General information on the Maternity Protection Law: Department of Labour, Nicosia: 22 400802.
- Information on Maternity Allowance and Maternity Gran under the Social Insurance Law: Social Insurance Services: 22 401725.
- District Labour Inspection Offices: Nicosia: 22 879191, Limassol: 25 827200, Larnaca: 24 805327, Pafos: 26 822715.