My job changed while I was on maternity leave. Is that legal?

On Behalf of | Jan 3, 2020 | Employment Law |

In this day and age, you probably know that your employer cannot terminate you because of a pregnancy-related leave. Yet, while pregnancy discrimination is illegal, a maternity leave situation can get complicated. 

During your leave, your attention is rightfully on preparing for and bonding with your child. But just because you are not thinking about work does not mean that everything will be the same when you return. What can you do if your company decides to change your role while you are away? 

Is it legal to change a position while an employee is on leave? 

Technically, a company can decide to change a person’s job description and duties while the employee is away on maternity leave. If business needs change during your leave, the company can bring you back in a different role. 

A few areas are not appropriate to change during a leave. Changing your pay, hours or benefits while you are on leave puts your company at risk of pregnancy discrimination. 

If you have the time and ability, it is often a good idea to provide your employer with a plan for how to cover your essential duties during your leave. This also provides a convenient way to give a timeline for any projects that you plan to continue after your leave and protect job duties that you would like to continue. 

What are the signs of pregnancy discrimination? 

It is illegal for your employer to use your pregnancy as a reason to: 

  • Deny you a promotion 
  • Change your hours or wages without your consent  
  • Remove you from a project 
  • Harass or otherwise create a hostile work environment 

Yet your employer can go through performance improvement or disciplinary measures if your work suffers during your pregnancy. An employer can fire a pregnant woman as long as the reason for the termination is not the pregnancy itself. 

Enjoy the wonderful addition to your family, and do not hesitate to stand up for yourself when you return to work. 

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