"I had to do right by the team and firm." A boss fired an employee for having a baby.

Kath Lee

Should an employer be able to fire an employee solely because she exercised her right to maternity leave?

Parental leave, or family leave, is an employee benefit available in almost all countries.[1] The term "parental leave" may include maternity, paternity, and adoption leave; or may be used distinctively from "maternity leave" and "paternity leave" to describe separate family leave available to either parent to care for small children.

According to Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), employees are eligible for leave if they have worked for their employer at least 12 months, at least 1,250 hours over the past 12 months, and work at a location where the company employs 50 or more employees within 75 miles.

But what if what you thought was just maternity leave actually causes you to lose your job?

A recent online post about a new single mother who was fired after taking her right to maternity leave brought this issue to light.

The author begins the post by stating that he manages a six-person team. Their company offers a generous 10 months of maternity leave. Recently, an employee named Jess became pregnant. Their team does project-based work, and in the period between her leaving for maternity leave and starting work on a project without her, they finished up the project they were working on when she left.

During this time, her team had to figure out how to work without her help on some things. They learned to change, and some of them eventually learned the skills they needed to take on some of her work. Now, he and two other people are each doing half of the work that Jess used to do, and they have hired a new person to take on the rest of Jess's work and then some. This new worker cost a lot less than Jess because he was fresh out of college and they paid him a small fraction of what they pay Jess.

Now that Jess is back on the team, there is a new problem. Their company told them that, for some reason, they can't afford a seven-person team anymore and will have to let someone go. When he sent in the paperwork for Jess's return, he found out about this. They've been working on a project for 5 months that should take 10 months, and his choice came down to Jess and the man they hired to take her place. They hired a replacement, which is not what they usually do, because they thought that the amount of work for this project would be much more than what they could handle at the moment, which it is not.

He then chose the replacement for the following reasons:

  1. It would cost a lot less and free up a lot more money than to keep Jess on.
  2. He was up to date on the project, so they could move forward quickly. With Jess, on the other hand, they would have to spend time bringing her up to speed on half of the project.
  3. The clients already knew and liked working with him, whereas they didn’t know Jess at all.
  4. She has been out of the field for a considerable amount of time, whereas he has been there for the previous nine months, therefore she may or may not find it difficult to adapt back to work life, whereas for him, this is not an issue.
  5. He executed his duties superior to hers and communicated more effectively with the team.

The ideal situation, which he desired, was to keep both and not abandon a newly single mother with no other employment prospects.

"but I had to do right by the team and firm"

He told her he’d write her a brilliant letter of recommendation and that in a few months she could try and apply for a job at their firm. Hopefully they'd have the budget, but she snapped at him and told him not to bother, then called him a fool and left.

I know I sound cold and heartless, but I had to be fair to both employees, not just Jess, right?

What do you think?

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Kath is a vivacious lady who is passionate about writing. She writes articles on all kinds of topics. From funny trending stuff, history, informative articles, and everyday scenarios of different kinds of individuals. She is a very busy lady and didn't have time to write this bio herself. So she asked her husband and kids to fill it. I think

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