Working mothers: The Ultimate Rights Guide.


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A major concern for every working woman is maternity in relation to work. In this article we will discuss what applies to working mothers.

It is usually extremely difficult for a woman (especially a career woman) to manage her pregnancy at work. When the time comes when a woman decides to move on in her personal life she feels intense pressure on her professional and career life. Among her most common thoughts is that a pregnancy will affect her career development as she will be inactive for a period of time. In addition, she is stressed by the fact that she may lose her job or competition to fill her position. Even if she overcomes these challenges , she will definitely be stressed about how to take care of her child in conjunction with her job, especially in the early days. Many questions arise that unfortunately in many women create anxiety in a woman period that by definition has a lot of joy in it. How do I announce that I am pregnant? Will my company be supportive? Does consider that I won't be able to concentrate on my work? Will they judge me if I'm not as efficient? What rights do I have?

For a smooth and organised management of the work-pregnancy dichotomy, it is necessary to know your legal rights in principle. According to the Constitution, "the family, as the foundation of the preservation and promotion of the nation, as well as marriage and motherhood are under the protection of the State [...]". This fundamental obligation of the State takes practical form in the form of provisions protecting motherhood, which concern the protection of the working mother at the stage of recruitment, during the employment relationship, and protection against dismissal. Read the full guide below here and find out about all your legal rights so you can feel stronger and more confident to handle the maternity period.

Protection of maternity at the beginning and end of the employment relationship

Below are the rights of the woman during maternity and the employer's obligations in this respect.

1. Protection during the recruitment process

  • An employer cannot refuse to hire a pregnant woman because she is pregnant.
  • An employer cannot, according to the law, refuse to employ a woman on the grounds of pregnancy in jobs where a medical certificate is required for employment, if the medical examinations required are dangerous for the health of the woman or the foetus. In this case, the medical certificate shall be presented after the end of the period of confinement.

2. Protection against termination of contract

  • The termination of an employee's employment contract by her employer during her pregnancy and for a period of eighteen (18) months after childbirth or during her absence for a longer period of time due to illness caused by pregnancy or childbirth is prohibited and absolutely invalid, unless there is good cause for termination.
  • The protection from termination of the contract or employment relationship applies both to the employer to whom the employee is hired without having been previously employed elsewhere before the completion of eighteen (18) months from childbirth and to the new employer to whom she is hired and until the completion of the aforementioned years.
  • Termination of the employment contract (dismissal) due to the employee's pregnancy is prohibited, while a possible reduction in the pregnant woman's performance at work due to pregnancy cannot be considered as a good reason under any circumstances. Moreover, it is irrelevant whether or not the employer was aware of the pregnancy, and the stage at which the pregnancy is at does not lead to a withdrawal of protection.
  • According to the law, the employer is obliged to give proper reasons in writing for terminating the employment contract of an employee who is pregnant, pregnant or lactating, in accordance with the rules of the law, and to notify the Labour Inspectorate of the termination.
  • In the case of an unlawful and abusive dismissal of a pregnant woman, the employer is in default and may be held liable (by the court) to pay compensation for moral damages to the pregnant woman.

3. Rights during maternity

  • Undertakings employing workers on either a full-time or part-time basis undertake, when drawing up work schedules, to avoid the employment of pregnant women on the night shift.
  • At any time during pregnancy, and if the pregnant woman requests it for health reasons, she should move to a day job.
  • It is noted that the legislation equates the rights and obligations of unmarried mothers with married mothers, while the protection is extended (in part) to workers who have adopted a child and those who have a child through surrogacy.

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Maternity protection during the employment relationship - Granting of leave

1. Maternity leave (pregnancy and childbirth)

Working mothers are entitled to a total of 17 weeks (119 days) of maternity leave. The first eight weeks (56 days) must be taken before the expected date of childbirth and the remaining nine weeks (63 days) must be taken after childbirth, as a single period of leave. This leave, which is compulsory, is granted to women employed by any employer on an employment relationship (permanent or fixed-term), irrespective of their length of service with that employer and the status in which they were employed (as workers or employees). Furthermore, the leave is not linked to the validity of the employment contract, the conception of a child by a married or unmarried woman, age, nationality, religion.

If the birth takes place on a date earlier than the expected date, the remainder of the leave is granted after the birth to complete and ensure the 17-week period.

On the other hand, if the birth takes place at a time later than the expected date of delivery, the 8 weeks' (pregnancy) leave is extended to the actual date of delivery and is not offset against the subsequent 9 weeks' maternity leave, which is normally granted in full. In this case, the mother shall be absent for a period of more than 17 weeks and the provisions relating to short term sickness shall apply for the excess period.

According to the prevailing view, the duration of the maternity leave and the payment of the maternity allowance are not affected by the fact that the foetus was stillborn, as long as the period of pregnancy required by medical science to allow the birth of a live child, i.e. normally the 28th week of pregnancy, has been completed. After that 28-week period, when the foetus is considered to be sustainable, a woman who has given birth to a stillborn child or a child who has died during the period of maternity leave shall be deemed to have suffered the same health impairment as a woman who normally takes maternity leave.

2. Childcare leave (reduced hours)

For a period of 30 months from the end of the maternity leave, the working mother is entitled to reduce her working hours by one hour per day. It is also possible for a mother who is entitled to leave - instead of taking one hour of leave per day for 30 months - to agree with the employer that she will be absent from work for two hours per day for the first 12 months and one hour for the following six months.

Alternatively, the father can also request daily leave for childcare if the mother does not use it. Childcare leave, recommended on a reduced-hours basis, is granted to the father not only in cases where the mother is employed on a salaried or self-employed basis, but also where the mother is not working.

Unmarried parents are also entitled to childcare leave.

Adoptive parents of a child up to 6 years of age are also entitled to use the reduced working hours - subject to the above conditions and the starting point for the granting of the reduced working hours is adoption.

Finally, it should be noted that - with the agreement of the employer - the right to alternative use of reduced hours for childcare as paid leave for the same period of time is granted in one lump sum or in instalments.

Childcare leave shall be regarded and paid as working time and should not create less favourable conditions of employment and labour relations.

3. Special maternity protection permit (special six-month OAED permit)

A mother who is insured with the EFKA of IKA-ETEAM and who works on a fixed-term or indefinite employment relationship with full or part-time employment in private sector enterprises or farms after the expiry of the maternity leave and the reduced-hours leave, is entitled to receive a special maternity protection leave of six (6) months. The insured person may, at her request, take all or part of this leave. She may also terminate the special leave with the written agreement of the employer. In any case, the remainder of the leave shall not be carried over to another period of time.

The beneficiary submits an application, herself or through a representative, to the competent department of the OAED within an exclusive period of sixty (60) days from the end of the maternity leave (childbirth and confinement), the leave equivalent to the reduced hours or the annual regular leave.

If the mother does not take the leave provided for, which is equal to the reduced hours, she shall be entitled, immediately after the end of her maternity leave, to the abovementioned special maternity protection leave, and thereafter to the reduced hours. It should be noted that the special maternity leave of six months' duration shall not be offset against any other maternity leave. The State Legal Council (NSC) recently clarified that the granting of the special maternity protection leave, which is six months in duration, does not affect the duration of the special leave for breastfeeding and childcare and is granted as follows: (a) in the case of an agreement to take leave equal to the reduced hours, immediately after the reduced hours; (b) in the case of no leave equal to the reduced hours, after the special maternity leave (childbirth and confinement), followed by the special leave for breastfeeding and childcare (reduced hours) of thirty months or as otherwise agreed between the worker and the employer as an alternative. The above NSC opinion was accepted by the Ministry of Labour, Social Security and Social Solidarity.

During the above special leave, the OAED is obliged to pay the working mother each month an amount equal to the minimum wage, as it is now in force from 1 February 2019, as well as a proportion of holiday gifts and holiday allowance based on the above-mentioned amount.

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What is it like to combine your initial studies in Chemical Engineering from NTUA, marketing, digital marketing, mentoring @manatee-mentor (Brussels) and career coaching? Travel with unique experiences is what comes to mind, as cliché as it sounds. My own journey started 20 years ago and brought me to this combination of different, but with so many common roles. Currently you can find me working in Brussels as marketing digital lead Europe (I am responsible for European countries) mentoring start ups, corporate leaders or "wanna be leaders" and NTUA students. Much of my energy is given to corporate females (i.e. women working in companies) where through career coaching I help them discover their deeper purpose and design a career in line with their potential and values. A career in which they feel fulfilled! Is this you?
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4 Responses

  1. Good evening,

    Your article is very interesting and informative, I have a question that I wonder if you could answer.
    In a scenario where a pregnant woman is on a contract and the contract terminates at the end of July (with a view to renewal in September, BEFORE the employer knows she is pregnant), what rights does she have and where can she go?

    Thank you in advance

    1. Good evening. Thank you for contacting us. You will need to contact an employment specialist for further information and clarification.

  2. Good morning : I read with great care your complete informative article but I would like a further information if the Woman is married and trying to become a mother with IVF and the employer knows this because they need some facilities and the dismissal comes and the employee can do it? You are not covered anywhere. Thank you in advance.

  3. Hello please I would like to ask a question I am interested in my child I am interested in my child she works at the Municipality in the KEPs and they make her work in the afternoons she is a divorced mother and has a child she has no one to take care of her in the afternoon what happens in this case Thank you very much in advance

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