03 Nov 2017

In Slovakia maternity leave is a risky business

Yes, Slovak law guarantees maternity LEAVE. It's the going back to work part that can be tricky.

Ria Gehrerová
Ria Gehrerová Denník N, Slovakia
Source: Denník N
In Slovakia maternity leave is a risky business - NewsMavens
Pregnant woman. Image from Wikimedia Commons

Why this story matters:

The story began in December 2001, when an employee of the Slovak National Library left her job to be a full-time mother for a few years. She gave birth to two children, and in January 2008 decided to return to work. Unfortunately, nobody was waiting for her there. She was told that her position no longer existed due to extensive cuts in budget and staff. Apparently, the library had to lay off 30 people, including her.

She soon realized that was just one version of the story. In spite of the fact that she was presented as redundant, the library employed two pensioners to manage the work she did in 2001. The head of her past department elucidated the issue. He claimed that, with two small children, she would not be able to effectively balance work and family life. He was sure she would be absent too often due to the future illnesses of her children.

To Slovak courts, the case was simple. The woman was making fuss over nothing. They did not hesitate, even when the UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) identified the case as discrimination and urged the government to compensate the woman. As of today, she has not received a single cent.

Details from the story:

  • A woman lost her job at the Slovak National Library, upon returning to work from a maternity leave. She was considered to be redundant.
  • When she left, two pensioners were employed to do her work.
  • Her ex-boss was open about the fact that he did not employ her back because of her children.
  • She lost all trials in Slovakia. None of the judges deemed the case to be discrimination.
  • However, one of the UN committees disagreed. The Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) identified the issue as discrimination. It recommended the Slovak government to compensate the woman, as well as to educate people about discrimination.
  • The government sees no reason to obey the UN. They consider the decision to be friendly advice.
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