MOM to the aid of mums

Posted by Tor Ching Li under Labour Watch on 31 July 2006

PREGNANT women who are unfairly sacked even before their sixth month of pregnancy after which it becomes illegal for an employer to do so can seek recourse from the Ministry of Manpower (MOM).

Ministry helps unfairly-dismissed pregnant women get compensation

PREGNANT women who are unfairly sacked even before their sixth month of pregnancy after which it becomes illegal for an employer to do so can seek recourse from the Ministry of Manpower (MOM).

MOM shared two examples of pregnant women who were retrenched during their pregnancy but had their three-month maternity leave pay reinstated after they sought help from the ministry.

Mrs Tan (not her real name) was fired from her job as an administrative assistant six months into her pregnancy on the grounds of poor performance. She had worked with the company for less than a year but fulfilled the requisite employment period to qualify for maternity benefits from the company.

She was given one month's pay in lieu of notice and another month's salary as compensation. Worried that she would not be able to find another job in her heavily pregnant state, Mrs Tan appealed to MOM to claim the full maternity benefits due to her.

"Through MOM's conciliation, the company agreed to pay her another two months' salary. In total, she received the equivalent of three months' maternity leave pay on top of her one-month's pay in lieu of notice," said an MOM spokesperson.

Another pregnant working mother, Mrs Wong (also not her real name), was retrenched from her post as a manager after three-and-a-half years of employment. The company claimed that her position was redundant after an internal restructuring. She was five months pregnant at the time of her dismissal.

Upon MOM's advice, the company eventually provided Mrs Wong with retrenchment benefits and an ex-gratia payment equivalent to three months' maternity leave pay.

A total of 23 employees sought MOM's assistance to claim maternity benefits in the first five months of this year. In 2004, there were 36 such cases and last year there were 78.

MOM attributed the increase in complaints to heightened awareness of maternity leave benefits.

Singapore National Employers' Federation (Snef) executive director Koh Juan Kiat said the current Employment Act and Children Development Co-Savings Act were "adequate to protect pregnant women".

"They can appeal during any stage of their pregnancy if they are unfairly retrenched," said Mr Koh.

The National Family Council announced last week that it would be working with MOM, Snef, the Singapore Business Federation and the labour movement to drive home the message that employers have to adopt good human resource practices to retain talent.

It also expressed its disapproval of discrimination against pregnant employees.

Sources and Relevant Links:

Today Online MOM to the aid of mums 28 July 2006

Today Online Having kids can cost some mothers their jobs 19 April 2005


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