“Yes, you worked for 5 years with us but for a year you were on maternity leave…”
I recently met a fellow mommy and a friend of mine over coffee, who seemed quite upset over this statement she heard from her manager during a discussion over her promotion and seniority.
It is fairly common to hear the maternity leave period being deducted from your tenure of service during verbal discussions as you are not literally working despite being an employee of the organization. How fair is that? Should this practice be allowed to exist?
In my view, it is totally unfair and against the objective of supporting a woman when she decides to give back to the society by giving a future individual to contribute. Though not mentioned so widely, this is one of the most common concerns behind the decision of not having children. Women are today way more ambitious in their lives than they ever were. And if we want to maintain the balance here by having female employees contribute to the corporates as well as to future population, we need to rethink the support that is available to women in general when it comes to going on maternity leave.
Those who have given a thought about it or themselves been in the situation would agree that the concerns related to going on maternity leave are not limited to financial impact on the household earnings. They are beyond it because when one plans to go on a break for 6 months or longer, it is easier for people to believe that she has gone a step back in her career. The disconnect from work that happens during maternity leave is looked upon as a dormant period where a female employee isn’t working in office, her skills aren’t getting sharpened like how they do in office, she isn’t learning and growing as she would have done in office.
What is overlooked here is, that a mother comes back with more efficiency due to limited hours available to her now, with better multitasking skills and doesn’t stop growing as an individual despite being on leave.
For sure, Europe tops the chart when it comes to the length of maternity leave. But the universal mindset of disregarding the maternity leave period in her career is still present in lot of corporates here.
To highlight the legal side of it – as per the Parental Leaves Act 1998-2006 supported under the European Community Programme for Employment and Social Solidarity – PROGRESS:
“An employee on parental leave is viewed as being employed and keeps all of his or her employment rights (except the right to remuneration and superannuation benefits). The absence, therefore, will count as reckonable service for the purposes of annual leave, increments, seniority, etc”
So legally one should not be deprived of her seniority due to maternity leave but the problem lies in the mindset of managers and leaders that needs a change. We need to create awareness around this issue and work towards a future that is fair to the travelers on the journey of motherhood.
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