The Rights of Pregnant Women
Pregnant women, newborn mothers as well as adoptive mothers of children under 12 years old are entitled to a number of benefits and employment rights under the Protection of Maternity Laws of 1997 to 2011. Here are some of the most important rights that working mother are entitled to claim from their employers.
Pregnant women are allowed to take leave from work without loss of pay in order to attend ante-natal examinations during working hours provided that they give adequate warning and bring a doctor certificate upon their return. The medical certificate is required as the pregnancy is different for every woman and the decisions cannot be taken based on guesswork.
They cannot be dismissed for reasons related to their condition from the beginning of their pregnancy to the end of their maternity leave and protected by law from the consequences of unlawful dismissal. According to the Protection of Maternity Laws of 1997 to 2011 dismissal of a pregnant worker (or / and adoptive mother) is prohibited, provided she has notified her employer in writing about her pregnancy. The dismissal prohibited period starts from the moment of the written notification and is extended up to 3 months after the end of maternity leave.
A pregnant woman can be dismissed only under the following circumstances:
- she is found guilty of a misdemeanour or her behaviour justifies the cancellation of the employment agreement;
- the business at which she is employed ceased to exist;
- her contract has expired.
If the dismissal of a pregnant employee falls under the above exceptions of the Law, her employer has to prove the reasons of the dismissal in writing.
Pregnant women are entitled to the same working terms and conditions as their male and female co-workers who are not pregnant, including the right to promotion, vocational training and education. The pregnancy period should not be used as grounds for decisions on less favourable treatment in comparison to her other colleagues.
The pregnant women also have right to:
- be provided with chairs for professions that may easily be practiced from this position (for example pregnant workers in factories, cash desks, banks etc.);
- work flexible hours where possible, if they realise that are more productive during certain hours per day (ex. after mid-morning). If there are duties that can be exercised from home, the necessary measures should be taken so the said arrangement could be made to the benefit of both parties (the employer and the pregnant worker). This should be arranged between the pregnant workers and their employer and should not affect their working terms and conditions or professional opportunities;
- be transferred temporarily to another sector or department where the tasks (of physical nature) are more safe and light;
- take regular breaks for food and drink;
- require large size uniforms in case she need to wear protective uniform;
- ask for help from other colleagues if necessary;
- request temporary provision of parking spots near their workplace.
Female workers are entitled to maternity leave. Male and female workers have individual entitlement to parental leave (in addition to the maternity leave) on the grounds of the birth or adoption of a child. The maternity and paternal leave aims to support them in taking care of the child for at least four months. One parent is allowed to transfer two weeks of her / his parental leave to the other one. At the end of their maternity and parental leave, workers must have the right to return to the same job or to a similar position consistent with their employment contract or relationship.
The period of absence from work due to maternity or paternity leave may not be used as a reason for altering unfavourably their working conditions and cannot be deducted from their annual leave. This means that the employer cannot demote them from the position they had before the maternity leave. The maternity leave period is considered as working time for seniority purposes and therefore the workers have the right to promotion or return to the same or another job of the same nature and remuneration as their job before the maternity leave. All benefits related to their jobs are secured (for example the 13th salary in full), with the exception of those benefits that are related to the quantity and / or value of the work produced (ex. performance bonuses).
For a period of nine months from birth, or from the day the maternity leave starts in case of an adoption, working mothers have the right, to either interrupt their employment for one hour or go to work one hour later or leave work one hour earlier every day in order to take care of the child. It is noted that this hour is considered and paid as normal working time. The employer is not allowed to refuse the wish of the concerned worker for different working hours unless the employer can provide appropriate justification for this decision.
If the employer is found guilty of an offence of discrimination on grounds of sex, including discrimination on grounds of pregnancy, the employer risks a fine up to € 6.834,41 or imprisonment up to six months or / and both penalties, if the act is not subject to a more severe penalty.
For more information on matters related to such discrimination in employment contact the following competent bodies:
- Equality Inspectors at the Department of Labour of the Ministry of Labour and Social Insurance;
- Committee on Gender Equality in Employment and Vocational Training Law at the Department of Labour of the Ministry of Labour and Social Insurance;
- Equality Authority of the Office of the Commissioner for Administration (Ombudsman).