On Pregnant Women and Annual Leave

by | Mar 4, 2022 | General | 0 comments

I stand by my opinion. It is inhumane to discourage or deny a pregnant women from benefitting from annual leave because she plans to embark on maternity leave. We can argue all day about cost to employer but is the health risk worth it?

Annual leave and maternity leave serve distinct purposes. Different types of leave serve different circumstances. Annual leave is for resting, taking a break, recharging. Maternity leave is for maternal and new born baby care. Exam leave is for preparing for professional exams.

All employees by law are entitled to annual leave which they can take at their discretion, subject to the policies of the organisation.

When an organisation adopts a policy that states maternity leave is annual leave consuming, it prohibits an employee from embarking on annual leave in the same year as maternity leave. It implies that because an employee plans to exercise their right to maternity leave, their rights to annual leave are withdrawn. Thus, in the case of a pregnant employee, she can no longer take a break like every other employee. This practice is discriminatory, unfair and poses a serious health risk.

Good practice is that annual leave should be accrued monthly. We should to do away with practices where people can’t take any time off till after probabtion.  A pregnant employee at the very least is entitled to the leave accrued from the other months of work prior to maternity leave. It is poor practice and punitive to provide an employee a benefit such as annual leave and then withdraw it on the basis of taking time off due to pregnancy or childcare.

In my opinion, any policy that states that annual leave cannot be taken in a year of maternity leave is inhumane. It’s inhumane for any employee to be denied annual leave which is time to rest. It is doubly inhumane for a woman who will need time to rest given the extra demands on her physical and mental health.

If you are a big business, what’s really your excuse? Why are you withdrawing the benefit of a high risk employee? Please adopt better practices and change this inhumane policy.

Before arguing small businesses can’t afford this, do note, I am an employer and a small business owner. There is nothing dialogue and planning cannot resolve. Discuss options and creative solutions will emerge, but please don’t touch the annual leave of pregnant employees, she already earned it by showing up to work.

If your small business truly cannot afford to comply with the law on maternity leave by paying at least 50% of salary, then please rethink your business model.  You can’t afford to be in business if you can’t afford to abide by the law.

If you can’t afford this, can you afford to k!ll her?

I rest my case.

Adora Ikwuemesi.

Ps: Again, I don’t expect everyone to agree with me. Last time, I wrote on this issue, I had some converts😀 and that in itself makes it all worth it. #breakthebias

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