When there are people, and potential employers, who think like Mr Yeh Siang Hui.
Pregnancy no guarantee against job loss
I REFER to Ms Chin Hwee Chin’s Forum Online letter on Monday, ‘Provide better protection for pregnant women in workforce’.
Ms Chin did not say if she falls into a category of people expressly excluded from receiving maternity leave benefits by the Employment Act (Cap 91).
For instance, she may be in an executive position and thus is not an employee by definition under the Act – even if she may be an employee by her company’s definition. She was correct that the Act provides that maternity benefits are payable even if the pregnant employee is retrenched in the last three months of pregnancy.
However, she was five, and not six, months pregnant when her letter was written, and thus, she was not in the last three months of her pregnancy.
Accordingly, nothing in the Act, or in law, prevents her employer from retrenching her. Her letter gives the impression that there is a blanket prohibition on the dismissal of any pregnant employee per se. This is not so. A pregnant employee may be dismissed at any time as long as there is sufficient cause legally. In her letter, she did not shed any light on whether her employer may have terminated her services on justifiable grounds, such as misconduct or poor performance on her part.
In all, her employer acted within the law. The Government’s encouragement of couples to procreate should not be misinterpreted as an implied licence to do so at an employer’s expense.
Birth rates were much higher three or four decades ago than now, yet couples willingly procreated and raised children in the absence of the comprehensive set of incentives in place today. Ms Chin – and other like-minded pregnant women in employment – fails to understand the damage and loss caused to an employer (especially small and medium-sized enterprises) by having to maintain on its payroll an employee who, throughout her maternity leave, saddles her colleagues with heavier workloads, does not contribute to the company’s revenue and causes loss to the company by continuing to draw pay.
In the light of the counter-balancing needs and interests of employers, the law more than adequately protects pregnant employees, and thus needs no review.
Yeh Siang Hui
Beware what you say about him though, he’s a lawyer… Maybe EQ & social intelligence is inversely related to the ability to study.