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Pregnant Women: Entitled or not?

Pregnant Women: Entitled or not?

Kipp’s divided on the extent of entitlements pregnant employees can claim in the UAE. What do you think?

August 16, 2011 3:44 by

The National published a rather interesting piece on the protection of pregnant women in the UAE workforce against wrongful terminate under the labour law. Kipp will give you just one guess as to which side of the protection spectrum the UAE tends to lie on this issue. Not too hard to guess, is it?

According to the experts though it is definitely not legal under UAE labour law to dismiss an employee on grounds of her pregnancy, women have very little protection under the labour law if their employer dismisses them on account of their pregnancy.

Take for instance, the case of NF, a 31-year-old from Tanzania, who told The National she lost her job five months into her pregnancy; her company said her termination was related to the restructuring the company was undergoing.

Or consider the words of a 31-year-old Italian paramedic: “I told my company that I was pregnant, and the next week I was fired. We discussed this before, and because my job is a little dangerous, they said not to worry and that I would be relocated, but that didn’t happen.”

Regardless of the real reason behind both companies terminating the two women, companies in general stands to lose a considerable amount of money to keep their pregnant staff on board what with paid maternity leave they need to provide her and the reduced working hours as per labour law once she returns to work.

Key to this issue as well is that employees who haven’t finished a year with the company are not entitled to benefits as per labour law, and so are the most vulnerable to dismissals.

It shouldn’t be surprising then, that this bias extends also to candidates for jobs. One HR exec said that even though a particular job candidate “had the perfect qualifications, perfect experience and was perfect for the position, but because she was pregnant she was not accepted.”

Now, of course a candidate who feels that their dismissal is unfair can take it up with the Ministry of Labour, but it can be an equally daunting task to go through the legal wrangle. Here at Kipp, there is some debate about the dismissal of employees specifically for those who get pregnant and have been with the company for less than a year.

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