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Pregnancy and dismissal

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Principle

Motherhood may not give rise to any form of discrimination.

An employer may not dismiss an employee as soon as she has informed him of her pregnancy. The manner in which the employer has been informed of the employee's pregnancy is not relevant.

Exception

An employer may still dismiss a pregnant employee for reasons not related to her pregnancy or delivery. This may be an urgent reason, an economic reason, faulty behaviour by the employee, dismissal by mutual agreement, termination of a fixed term contract, etc. The employer must always provide proof of this.

Period of protection

The protection period starts from the moment the employer is informed of the pregnancy and ends one month after the maternity leave. It does not matter how the employer came to know about the pregnancy. The pregnant employee may have informed the employer personally, in writing or orally, but the employer may also have been informed by colleagues or managers.

If the maternity leave is extended for a specific reason, this one-month period also only expires from the end of the extended maternity leave.

Example: The maternity leave ends on 3 March. Then the protection against dismissal runs until 2 April.

Please note! If the employee chooses to gradually resume work, her protection against dismissal will be extended by 8 weeks. This means that she cannot be dismissed until one month after the end of these 8 weeks.

The protection period is a fixed period, which is not extended by periods of suspension (illness, annual leave, unpaid leave,...) which could possibly occur immediately after the end of the maternity leave.

Protection allowance

If the employer dismisses the employee without just cause, a fixed indemnity equal to 6 months' salary is due. This indemnity comes on top of the indemnities already due as a result of the termination of the employment contract.

No social security contributions are due on this protection indemnity, but withholding tax must be paid. The indemnity can be combined with a severance payment and unemployment benefits.

Decision

There is no problem if the employer can show that he has a good reason for the dismissal, which is not related to the pregnancy or the delivery. If he cannot demonstrate this, he will have to pay a lump sum of 6 months' salary.

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Heidi Vergauwe

Dedicated and meticulous Payroll & HR Advisor, always willing to go for the extra (s)mile!