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Tuesday 18 December 2018

Mother urged to work just 12 days after the premature birth of second child

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Gordon Deegan

A printing firm boss contacted a female employee 12 days after the premature birth of her baby boy and pressured her to work from home during maternity leave, she claimed.

The woman said that four months prior to giving birth, when she told her boss that she was pregnant with her second child, he told her that he hoped "her two men will help you handle your two kids".

The woman - who worked in the firm's quality assurance department - said her boss's comment was a reference to the fact her two children would have different fathers.

She said her boss was not happy she was pregnant.

Now the Workplace Relations Commission (WRC) has ordered the employer to pay the woman €20,000 after finding she was discriminated against on the grounds of gender and constructively dismissed.

In the ruling, WRC adjudication officer David Mullis ordered the employer to pay the woman €10,000 after upholding the mother's claim she was penalised for proposing to exercise her parental leave rights.

She was discriminated against on the grounds of gender when her employer failed to consider her for promotion while on maternity leave.

In the second part of the ruling, Mr Mullis also ordered the firm pay €10,000 over the mother's claim she was constructively dismissed under the Unfair Dismissals Acts.

The woman gave birth to her second baby 29 weeks into her pregnancy after being rushed from work to hospital in August 2016.

She said that 12 days after the birth, her boss contacted her and pressured her to work from home due to there being no one on site to manage audits.

She said that this requirement to work from home meant working four hours a day for periods across the entire length of her maternity leave.

The woman told the WRC that the work "placed an incredible volume of upset, exhaustion and distress on her as she was required to perform this role while providing intensive levels of care for her significantly premature baby, requiring incubation, as well as caring for her three-year-old son".

However, the company's boss provided a conflicting account.

He said the female employee asked in May 2016 to work during her maternity leave and that she was given the work because she said that she needed money, was bored hanging around to check that the baby was in an incubator and that she was alone.

The woman resigned in June 2017 after stating that her employer's actions had destroyed her trust in them.

Irish Independent

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