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Dismissal of a pregnant employee or on maternity leave

Verified 22 April 2020 - Directorate for Legal and Administrative Information (Prime Minister)

Dismissal shall be prohibited during the period of maternity leave. However, before and after maternity leave, dismissal shall be authorized in the event of serious misconduct or of the impossibility of maintaining the contract for reasons other than pregnancy and childbirth.

As soon as the employer becomes aware of an employee's pregnancy, it cannot terminate her employment.

However, the employer may terminate the employment contract if he justifies:

  • a serious fault on the part of the employee,
  • or the impossibility of maintaining the contract for reasons other than pregnancy or childbirth. For example, in the event of dismissal for incapacity and impossibility of reclassification. The letter of dismissal must state that these reasons make it impossible for the employee to remain in the company in addition to the reason.

If the employer is not aware of the pregnancy at the time of termination, it may continue the procedure. The employee must, in order to be protected, send her a medical certificate justifying the state of pregnancy and indicating the presumed date of delivery.

This mail must be sent by registered letter with notice of receipt, within 15 days from the date of notification dismissal.

The reinstatement of the pregnant employee in the undertaking must take place as soon as possible, after the employer has received the certificate.

The termination letter must indicate the serious misconduct or impossibility of maintaining the contract. In the absence of any mention of any of these 2 grounds, the termination is canceled.

During maternity leave, the employee may not be dismissed.

It enjoys total protection absolute.. The employer cannot break his employment contract even in the presence of a serious fault or an impossibility of maintaining the contract. We'll have to wait for the employee to return.

This protection applies even if the employee only uses part of her leave entitlement.

Example :

An employee who shortens her leave and returns to work 6 weeks after childbirth remains fully protected until the end of the 10 weeks.

The employee is also protected during a work stoppage because of her pregnancy condition, which is certified by a medical certificate. Maternity leave shall then be increased up to 2 weeks before the presumed date of delivery and 4 weeks after the date of delivery. The duration of protection against dismissal is therefore increased accordingly.

FYI  

an employed father shall enjoy the same protection as the mother against dismissal when he takes the postnatal leave following the death of the mother. He is also protected when he, not the mother, takes the adoption leave.

The employee cannot be dismissed for the following 10 weeks:

  • the expiry of maternity leave,
  • or the period of paid leave taken immediately after maternity leave.

However, the employer may terminate the employment contract if he justifies:

  • a serious fault on the part of the employee,
  • or the impossibility of maintaining the contract for reasons other than pregnancy or childbirth. For example, in the event of dismissal for incapacity and impossibility of reclassification. The letter of dismissal must state that these reasons make it impossible for the employee to remain in the company in addition to the reason.

The termination letter must indicate the serious misconduct or impossibility of maintaining the contract. In the absence of any mention of any of these 2 grounds, the termination is canceled.