Thursday, July 24, 2008

Work and Maternity Breaks

Breaking News: I was asked to resign from my job... because am on maternity leave. NOT FAIR.

I had an engaging role working out of home. The role necessitated occasional travel which I was (and still am) willing to do leaving Button behind with my mom. The head of the organization who took this call to let me go has 4 children herself. She worked out of home for the same organization several decades ago when she took 4 maternity breaks herself. Everybody agrees that I did a great job and that they "wish" they could wait another month for me to return, but no, progress on a couple of assignments is too fast to not have a person on the job NOW. I was openly told that the question of hiring somebody else would not have come up had I not gone on a break.

Two Questions:
a) I was open about the fact that I would go on maternity leave several months ago. Why did it not strike them then that a replacement would have to be found for a few months? Also, would it not take them time to train a new person and bring him or her to speed? It seems illogical to insinuate that I am somehow less capable now, given that am a new mother, especially coming from a lady who is a mother 4 times over.

b) Is it possible that this whole arrangement fell through because the organization is a US based one and am in India? Are Indians treated below par?

I am trying to not let guilt or resentment take over, but they do surface every now and then. As if coping with a newborn is not taxing enough!

ps:Two other posts dealing with similar topics.

Y on Working Moms
ITW on Maternity becoming a Career Hazard


  1. Here in the US a company CANNOT fire someone because they are on maternity leave. It is illegal. I don't know how it would work in your case as the company is US based but you are in India. Try talking to a lawyer and maybe even to the HR and ask them isn't it illegal (yes it is) to let go of someone because of this specific cause. Better still WRITE to them - that way there will be a record of it.

  2. My suggestion is you first get some legal advice. If it's a US company, it still holds good. Also drop a strong ( but nicely put ) hint that you wonder if this is ethical specially since your boss herself had 4 maternity leaves herself.

    All said and done, whether you do or don't do anything, your association with this company will be strained. And trust me, they are not the last employers on earth. But they do need to be shown the rulebook, methinks. Good luck !

  3. Dude, you have to have to sue them for this- if that’s the reason for your expulsion. This is grossly unfair. There are numerous companies that are giving paternity leaves in India now, leave alone maternity leave. You relationship with these people is anyway done with, so if you have to leave then its best to leave with dignity; in my opinion. These people get away all the time as there is no action taken against them.

    For me it's not about a job but about principles and I would definitely take legal action against such hypocrites. Don't worry about the job, I’m sure you can find one any day of the week and twice on Sundays.

  4. hey its ridiculous..this calls for suing the firm,..i guess there are legal provisions for it.

  5. This is so phenomenally unfair! Is there any way you can fight this legally?


  6. Contrary to popular belief, it is not illegal in the US to fire women on maternity leave. It depends on the rules of the state that you live in. Most states have a hire at will, fire at will policy and they can pretty much come up with a legal sounding reason for firing someone. But, since you are in India, you should check the rules there..
    Also, is it possible for you to start working full time right away? Because if you offered (hypothetically) to get back to your job full time right now, will they keep you? Did they even give you an option to start full time work right away and finish up your maternity leave later? You should get everything in writing from your boss, including an explicit reason for firing you and contact a lawyer asap.
    Finally, I agree with one of the comments that this might be a good time for you to spend some quality time with your baby and join a better company when you are ready for it. But, I do understand that sometimes financial concerns do not make this possible. So, hope it works out well for you. Keep us posted.

  7. #GTN: Yes, I did write to them expressing my displeasure. Thanks!

    # Minka: Yes, that IS the bottomline. I am spending time with Button. Finances are not so bad that I NEED to work now. So am enjoying motherhood!

    #Taz: Thanks for the encouragement, but I prefer to skip sundays!

    # Mathew: Sueing is a bit far fetched. They are a big global organization. And am really busy with a baby. Getting hold of a lawyer, sueing etc. takes time and energy. But yes, I wish I had the energy and drive to do it now!

    #Ramsu: Nadakara velaiya? Am sacking out. Am sure i'll find something to do when am ready. Watz cooking otherwise?

    # Molagaipodi: Lovely blog name! Thanks for the support. Am not going to sue anyway. I wanted to express my angst though. Yet not fully recovered from the sudden blow.

  8. That is so not fair. Nevertheless, this could mean more holidays before you embark on a new and exciting job!

  9. Utter crap... I agree I would love to sue them, but know how hard it is to do that. Feel your positive outlook is great...seriously enjoy your time with the baby.

  10. THis is not fair and not legal. You may want to tell your HR that.

    Tell them that you will not resign, and they are welcome to terminate you on any grounds that they seek fit.I hope you have a written confirmation allowing you to work from home with some travel. Then, you can send that email along with the email that you send, informing them that such a termination would be illegal and that you will be prepared to seek support and go to any length to "safeguard your rights"

    Before that, pls read the fine print on the mat leave policy.

    You dont actually have to sue. Just threaten in writing, placing on record that other employees, for instance the CEO has taken such leave in the past, and that instance will most likely come up for discussion in the court of law.

    Draft the mail, then run it past some ppl (i volunteer too) then send it. At worst, they will still fire you. At best, they will negotiate. Take a decent severance if u want, or continue.

    Yes, life is a b(*&^. :-)