Pregnancy test
Under the law, pregnancy is not a valid reason to terminate employment. Representational photo of pregnancy test for illustrative purposes only. Image Credit: Pexels

Question: I have been working in a private company for two years. A month ago, I applied for maternity leave as I am in the eighth month of pregnancy. The employer refused to give me maternity leave with leave entitlements. According to the employer, I agreed with him in a side contract that maternity leave is without salary or entitlements. I filed a labour complaint against the employer, but he fired me from work. What procedures am I legally entitled to take against my employer, and do I have the legal right to demand a return to work? If this is not done, do I have the legal right to claim maternity leave benefits and unfair dismissal allowance before the court?

Answer: 1. According to the law, the employer is not obliged to rehire you. Thus, you have to proceed with your complaint and claim whatever rights you want. In case the employer refuses to settle, you should transfer the matter to the court.

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2. Regarding claiming maternity leave, even though as per Article 26 of Labour Law No. 33 of 2021 it is not permissible to terminate the service of a female worker or to give her notice because of pregnancy, or because she has obtained maternity leave, the decision about its entitlement - in this case - is related to the court. This is because maternity leave allowance is given to the worker who is still working, not terminated and the employer must grant the female worker maternity leave whenever she requests it at any time, starting as of the last day of the month immediately preceding the month in which she is expected to give birth, and this shall be proven by a certificate from the medical authority.

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3. The termination is considered unlawful according to Article 47 of the above mentioned law, if it is due to filing a serious complaint to the Ministry or filing a case against the Employer that has been proven to be true, which gives you the right to claim this compensation. The employer is obligated to pay a fair compensation to the worker estimated by the competent court, if it is proven that the dismissal is unlawful. The amount of compensation must not exceed the wage of the worker for a period of three months, calculated according to the last wage received thereby. Moreover, this compensation shall not prejudice the right of the Worker to the warning allowance and the end-of-service gratuity entitled to her in accordance with the provisions of the law.