[Ireland] Complaints Reveal 20 Women Couldn’t Return To Work When Maternity Leave Concluded

In one year, the number of complaints made to the Workplace Relations Commission (WRC) under the Maternity Protection Act has almost doubled, The Journal reveals.

Figures released to Fora by the WRC show a climb in complaints made under the act, increasing from 21 in 2017 to 39 in 2018.

Last year 20 of the total complaints came from employees reporting that they were not allowed to return to work after their maternity leave concluded. This compares to 11 complaints in 2017.

12 of the complaints were complaints from employees who said they did not receive their maternity leave at all. An increase of 3 from the previous year. 

The WRC has not released data regarding the decisions which were made on the complaints. 

Therese Chambers - an associate at law firm William Fry - reportedly told Fora it is “impossible to say exactly why there has been such an increase” but Ms Chambers thinks it might be related to recent changes to family leave and flexible working laws which have brought the issues to the attention of the public. 

New legislation, set to come into force on 1 November this year, will let parents take two weeks of extra leave in the first year of their child’s life or their adoption. Discussion has also increased around legislation governing companies reporting salaries to demonstrate gaps in gender pay. 

“It is likely the heightened global awareness of gender-related issues spinning from the #MeToo and #TimesUp movements has also had an impact on these numbers,” Ms Chambers continued.

“Employers are risking high WRC awards and more importantly, a big impact on their organisation’s reputation if they are not meeting their obligations. If employers don’t step up, I think this upward trend is likely to continue.”

Richard Grogan  - an employment law lawyer - pointed out that the figures are likely to represent “a small fraction” of the number of people who have faced discrimination in the workplace regarding maternity leave because many cases are resolved through mediation before they make it to the WRC.

Source: The Journal