Mamma Musings

Working Moms: Do We Ever Get a Break?

If you are a working mom, you are probably dealing with some challenges. The main one may be balancing work and motherhood. How do you create time for your children, your work and still have time for self-care?

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In Ireland, the Workplace Relations Commission enforces the various laws that promote gender equality and prohibit any form of discrimination against women in the workplace.

Yet, in spite of such bodies and the various employment laws protecting working women, mothers are still facing bias in the workplace. They miss out on promotions, are paid less, or are often denied requests for a flexible work schedule when pregnant or require time to recover after having a baby. 

This discrimination faced by working mothers is often referred to as a ‘maternal wall.’

Some of the reasons employers use to discriminate against working moms include; they are more likely to miss work or are unlikely (due to their family commitments) to work as required at the office.

The situation has forced many moms to quit working to raise their children. Mothers who remain at work despite discrimination, have to deal with the daily difficulties. This is highly unfair. Moms need to achieve their career goals too.

Employee rights for working moms

We need to answer the question, ” How can we as mothers avoid discrimination at work and achieve our career goals without neglecting our families?” The answer is by using our employee rights.

Employee rights are regulations that protect you against unfair treatment from your employer. Ireland is especially fair to expectant and working mothers.

Maternal rights for working moms

In Ireland, your maternal employee rights as a working mom start before delivery. You are entitled to reasonable time off for medical checkups and to attend antenatal classes.

You should also get maternity leave to recover from childbirth and bond with your baby. Working moms are entitled to 26 weeks of maternity leave to deliver their babies. Two of those weeks can be taken before the child’s birth. 

Mothers who choose to adopt a child are allowed 24 weeks leave from the date the child comes home. 

Of course, benefits are essential when you have a new baby to cater to and medical bills to pay. You can guarantee yourself some maternal or adoptive benefits by contributing sufficiently to your social insurance. 

Your rights after maternity leave

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There have been cases of women getting back to work after the birth of their child only to find their job status has changed. They are either downgraded in terms of their position or pay.

No employer should downgrade your job status or pay because you had a baby. 

The Maternity Protection Acts 1994  protects a mother’s right to be treated as she was before delivery. 

Therefore, after your maternity leave, you have a right to get back to your former employment position. In case your post is filled for any reason, your employer should offer you suitable alternative employment.

The Equal Status Acts 2000-2018 also forbids any bias based on, among other things, family status such as pregnancy. It promotes equal opportunities at work and advocates for family-friendly work practices. 

Therefore, taking time off work to deliver your child does not give your employer the right to mistreat you once you report back.

If you need time away from work to breastfeed your child, you can rely on Section 9 of the Maternity Protection (Amendment )Act, 2004,  to fight for your breastfeeding rights. 

It allows women who’ve delivered within the last six months time away from work to breastfeed, thereby helping them transition back to work without worrying about their babies.

Balancing work and family

Apart from laws that support moms, more companies in Ireland are adopting fair employment policies for working mothers. 

Some offer in-home child care benefits or on-site daycare facilities at work. Others allow moms to work with flexible schedules or remotely from home. 

Pic Credit: Unsplash

This is a most welcome trend that is providing a more inclusive environment in the workplace for mothers.

If you work for a company that doesn’t provide support to mothers, your employer may be ready to make your schedule flexible or give you a chance to work from home if you negotiate. Try it!

Are you facing discrimination at the workplace?

If asking or negotiating for your rights doesn’t work, fighting for them may be your only remaining option.

Although women are known to avoid actions that make waves in the workplace, many are now coming forward to sue unfair employers.

As a working mom, you deserve to work and raise a family without feeling like you need to let go of one to accommodate the other. As you have seen, several laws in Ireland protect you from bias at the workplace.

Therefore, if you face any workplace discrimination and asking for your rights does not lead to any changes, pursuing legal action is an option you should consider.

Author: Kelly Pence

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