Fired During or After Maternity Leave? Expert Advice on What you can Do

Is it Illegal to Get Fired while on Maternity Leave?

Most working moms expect that they will still have their job when they return from maternity leave. However many working moms have found that they got terminated from work or lost their jobs while on maternity leave.

Most employers take advantage of the absence of the mom while on maternity leave to lay them off. Others were fired on the first day after returning from maternity leave.

Your maternity leave is supposed to be a period of recovery from delivery.  It is very unfair and heartbreaking to get replaced, laid off, or fired on maternity leave or soon after you resuming work.

In addition, it can be termed illegal in some cases. Moms on maternity leave are referred to as a protected class and replacing them or firing them while on maternity leave is illegal. The legality of the matter however varies from one state or country to another.

Generally, the law in most states and countries sets a specific period of time when the employer is obliged to keep your position before replacing you. Before this is over, it is illegal to fire or lay you off. Within this period, the employer will keep the position for you.

Expert Advice : What to Do if Laid Off/Fired During or After Maternity Leave

What to Do if Laid Off/Fired During or After Maternity Leave

If you have lost your job while on maternity leave or a few days after returning to work, there are several things you can do. 

1. Sue Employer if Fired During or After Maternity Leave

Depending on where you live and for how long you have worked at your company, the law generally protects moms who are on maternity leave to avoid them getting terminated from work. The employer is obliged to keep your job and not replace you while you are on maternity leave until you return.

Therefore it would be unfair dismissal if you got fired while you were on maternity leave. Take a look at what the law in your state or country says about maternity leave. Have an employment lawyer look at your case and give you the options that you have.

While the law may not guarantee that you will be paid, it obligates the employer not to terminate you or fire you for the period you are on maternity leave.

 If this law applies to you and you have still lost your job, you may have the option of suing your employer. For instance, moms to whom FMLA apply are protected. As a protected class your employer is obliged to keep your job for a certain period before you return before they can replace you. Read more about FMLA here.

Your case may be successful and you will be presented with several options. Your employer may be asked to reinstate you back into your job and in addition pay damages for this.

While you may not want to work for the same employer, your employer may be asked to compensate you for unfair dismissal. You can use this amount to sustain yourself as you look for another job or you can start your own business. 

2. Look for Another Job if Laid off During or After Maternity Leave

If your employer fires you when you are on maternity leave or a few days after reporting back, you can bounce back by starting to look for another job. You do not deserve a company that is not family-friendly and is not supportive of moms to a point of replacing them when they are recovering.

You can recover from this setback and start looking for jobs immediately after you have been fired or laid off. Look for companies with open positions in areas that you are interested in.

Take keen to apply only to companies that are mom-friendly and supportive of families. You can look at their family policies and how they treat their woman. Keep looking and hopefully, you can find a better job to replace the one you have just lost. 

You may also be interested in part-time or remote jobs. Because you have a small infant, you will benefit from getting more time with the baby that flexible jobs offer. Remote jobs and part-time will allow you the balance to work and caring for your young baby. 

Read: How to Choose a Mom-Friendly Job

What to Do if Laid Off/Fired During or After Maternity Leave

3. Start your Own Business

Also after you have after being laid off or fired a day or two after returning from maternity leave, you can start your own business. Starting your business is one of the best options you have. Being replaced or fired so unexpectedly can be heartbreaking and cause anxiety for you.

However, you can take this advantage of the situation and start to build something of your own. You can recover and survive by fueling and focusing on your own dream. 

Working in your own business will have many benefits such as working in a job that you are really passionate about. Also since you are the owner, you have job security and can also take maternity leave without being terminated from your work.

Read: All you Need to Know about Starting your Own Busines

4. Be a Stay at Home Mom if Fired on Maternity Leave

If you are replaced, terminated from work, or fired while you are on maternity leave, you can decide to just stay at home and look after your baby. Being a stay at home mom after a maternity leave gives you adequate time to care for your baby.

Therefore getting laid off or fired when on maternity leave can be a blessing in disguise. You do not have to deal with nannies or daycare.

All you need is to have a supportive partner who will be the bread winner of the family. You can decide later to rejoin the workforce when your baby is big enough for school and you have recovered from the loss of your job. Or you can decide to pursue other things such as studying to starting your own business.

Read: Dealing with Female Breadwinner Burnout

5. Enroll for Studies if Fired on Maternity Leave 

Losing your job when on maternity leave or a few days after returning to work can be really discouraging. It is really frustrating and disappointing. On the other hand, it is an opportunity for you to go back to school. If you have resources and the support you need from your partner you can go for it. 

Enroll in classes and use the new acquired skills and knowledge to get a better job later. It is the perfect timing and environment to recover from the loss of your job after you are terminated.  

Losing your job on maternity should not stop your career this period in between jobs is perfect for advancing your knowledge and career. 

After How Long Can You Get Another Job after Getting Fired On Maternity Leave?

Depending on several factors, it can be either hard or easy to find another job after you are released from work during or after maternity leave . In some fields such as sales and marketing, you can find another as soon as immediately to 2 months. In other fields such as tech, it can be relatively harder and take longer, especially because the field is not supportive of moms. 

In addition, your qualifications and experience will determine if you will find another job sooner after you are fired or terminated from work. The more qualified and experienced you are, the better it is because it will be easier for you to get another job. However, it may take you longer than expected if you are new in the field. 

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