Friday, April 24

Maternity leave firings becoming more common

CBC Article from Wed, 22 April 2009:

"The slumping economy is being blamed for what appears to be an increasingly common action — laying off or firing mothers while they're away from their jobs on maternity leave.

Toronto employment lawyer Daniel Lublin said he used to get a few inquiries every month about women being laid off while on maternity leave. Now, he said, claims have quadrupled.

Lublin said most companies he deals with blame the downturn in the economy.

"I'm hard-pressed to find a company these days that doesn't play the economy card," he said.

Many of the calls Lublin fields are from mothers just getting ready to return to work. Most of them just take the packages they're offered.

"The employers were always able to fire these people, it's just a question of the timing that leaves a bad taste in a lot of these people's — a lot of these ladies' — mouths," said Lublin.

Ilinka Petkovski expected that when her maternity leave was over she would be able to return to her job. But three days before her leave ended she was told her job was redundant — even though someone else was still doing her job.

"They got rid of the expensive choice and kept someone they had just hired," said Petkovski.

She could have filed a complaint with the Ministry of Labour, or the Ontario Human Rights Tribunal, or launched a lawsuit against the company. But all of those choices appeared to be time-consuming options.

Instead, Petkovski took a severance package and moved on.

"We're just little peons trying to fight these corporations who have deep pockets and fancy Bay Street lawyers, and we're moms trying to get on with our lives," she said.

Normally, employees on parental leave are protected. They have to be reinstated or offered a comparable position.

But legally a company can let them go if it's cutting jobs."

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