4 sign’s that you are being discriminated against on Maternity leave

Are you facing maternity discrimination?

So, you’ve had a baby…Congratulations! And you took your maternity leave because that’s what you’re legally entitled to do. But then throughout that maternity leave, you were stuck dealing with a whining, crying needy little brat with no respect for your time or space.

That’s right: your boss…

“I loved it, I loved my job. I was working towards a promotion and more and more responsibilities were being given to me. And I juggled it all. No worries. I was valued, a high performer, on the fast-track. Then I announced I was pregnant, and everything changed. I watched as everything I had been working so hard for, was destroyed.” – CMcD, former client of Employment Matters.

One-third of Irish mums experience maternity leave-related discrimination. But it is not always easy to spot this discrimination or to tackle it.

The Irish state has recognised in law the crucial role played by mothers of newly born children in our society. Employment Equality laws are there to bind all employers into providing certain basic rights and entitlements to expectant mothers and new parents. That is a wonderful thing, but it is too often ignored.

You would at this point feel comforted if it were not for the fact that your employer or former employer, like so many others, decided to simply ignore those rights and basic entitlements.

Many women simply accept this as an unfortunate fact of life. That is not right, it is not acceptable, and you should not have to tolerate it. Going to work is not everyone’s favourite activity, but it shouldn’t be something that’s treated as an entitlement, at the gift of someone and which can be taken away from you at a whim and simply because of your gender.

At Employment Matters, we pride ourselves on making your voice heard within the WRC and providing you with enough information to assess your current situation.

When your maternity leave comes to an end, you are entitled to return to work with your employer in the same job as the one you left.

Here are the top four scenarios to determine if you are being discriminated against:

  1. You have taken your maternity leave and suddenly you find that your job’s gone.

You are entitled to get your job back after your maternity leave ends. If that job no longer exists when you get back, you are entitled to a job that is substantially similar. In other words, an employer cannot simply give away your job or demote you because your maternity leave is inconvenient for them, or because they decide they prefer your maternity leave replacement as an employee. This ‘return-to-work guarantee’ applies regardless of how long you have worked with the employer prior to your due date.

  1. Missing out on opportunities for a promotion or performance appraisal because you are about to go on maternity leave.

Just because you are about to go on maternity leave does not automatically disqualify you from receiving a promotion or a performance appraisal. You are entitled to be considered for any opportunity that you feel you are best suited for.

  1. Being denied maternity leave you were entitled to, or pressure to start or finish your leave earlier or later than you would have liked.

All too often at Employment Matters, we hear stories from women who have faced pressure to take their Maternity leave earlier or later than they anticipated. If there is no risk to mother or baby, there is no reason why this should happen. This typically tends to occur when there is maternity cover arranged and you are working in a shared workspace.

Also, on the other end of the scale, you should not feel pressured to return to work earlier from maternity leave. You are entitled to a full 26 weeks paid maternity leave.

  1. There have been changes to your pay, conditions of work, and work duties.

Upon returning to work, if you notice that your pay, condition of work or work duties have changed then you may have been discriminated against. Make sure to note and document everything and always refer to your contract or your employee handbook.


The above scenarios are common forms of pregnancy discrimination that we have dealt with and can be challenged. If you think your employer has breached your rights, you can take action to enforce them legally through the Workplace Relations Commission.

At Employment Matters, we have helped countless women through this process, often resulting in awards and settlements, and we are experts in employment law. We understand that it is not all about the money and all too often women just want to hold their employers to account. You can trust us to make your voice heard.

For a free consultation with one of our legal experts, call us now on 1890 88 90 90 or Click here to fill out an inquiry form and we will respond to you within 24 hours.