Taking time off of work after the birth of a child is necessary. Even the healthiest and strongest woman will need time for her body to recover from the difficulty of birth. Children also benefit from having uninterrupted bonding time with their parents right after their birth.
Even if your employer doesn’t offer paid maternity leave, as long as you have been with them for 12 months and your employment meets certain criteria, you have the right to take unpaid leave because of your pregnancy and delivery.
In theory, whether you took unpaid leave or paid maternity leave, you have the right to return to the same job and pay as before the leave. What happens if your employer doesn’t cooperate?
Your employer might resent your leave of absence
Pregnancy discrimination is surprisingly common for working mothers. Companies may assume that a woman who has just had a child will no longer do good work or won’t be as dedicated to the company as she once was. They may worry about how much time you will have to spend caring for your child.
The company might train someone to fill your position while you are gone and then decide not to offer you the same position when you return to work. As long as they can offer you a similar position for the same pay, that isn’t necessarily a problem.
However, if they expect you to accept a demotion, a pay cut or a reduction in your hours, your employer has probably violated your rights. After you take maternity leave, you should not have to worry about whether you have a job to come back to.
Communicating in writing about employment concerns can help you
Instead of pulling your manager aside to ask them questions, send a formal email. That way, you have written documentation when they respond about not giving you back your old job or expecting you to take a cut in pay.
In some cases, simply needing to type out their decision might remind your supervisor that they have violated your rights and prompt them to fix the situation. Even if they don’t, written correspondence will provide you with a paper trail that will make it easier to show that the company discriminated against you.