Pregnancy and Employment: Rights, Employer’s Obligations and Discrimination
Updated: Oct 10, 2021
Under the Protection of Maternity Laws of 1997 to 2011, an employed pregnant woman is entitled to maternity leave for 18 consecutive weeks – nine of which must be taken within the period beginning on the second week before the childbirth.
Employed pregnant women are also entitled to time off, without the loss of pay, in order to attend antenatal examinations (if such must take place during working hours), if they have notified their employer in time and providing them with a relevant medical certificate.
In addition to that, in the event an employed woman is breast-feeding or nursing her child she has the right, for a period of nine months after the date of birth, to interrupt her employment for one hour or start her work one hour later or even, leave work one hour earlier for the purpose of breastfeeding (or for the needs of her child whatsoever). This time shall be considered and paid as normal working time.
An employer is prohibited from dismissing or even giving notice of dismissal to an employed woman, from the time she has notified him that she is pregnant in writing (via written letter, email, medical certificate etc). Furthermore, in the event the employer has dismissed or has given notice of dismissal to a female employee without knowing her being pregnant, she may proceed to notify her pregnancy to the employer in writing within 5 working days of receiving the dismissal or the notice for dismissal in order to be afforded the protection from dismissal under the relevant law.
The employer is eligible to fire a pregnant employee only if:
The company/business has ceased operations and/or ceased to exist;
The employee is guilty of a serious offence;
The employee’s behaviour justifies such dismissal;
The duration of contract of employment has expired.
For the last point, it must be noted that non-renewal of a pregnant woman’s employment contract should not be based on a reason associated with her condition.
Under the Equal Treatment for Men and Women in Employment and Vocational Training Laws of 2002 to 2009, the legislator has reflected the principle of equal treatment for men and women and the principle of non-discrimination. A pregnant woman who has taken maternity leave has the right, after the expiration of the period of leave, to return to her job or to a similar position on terms and conditions not less favourable for her. Examples of conditions less favourable such as reduction of her duties and assignment to her of a non-important job, due to her pregnancy and maternity leave and without an objective explanation.
An amended bill for the extension of maternity leave allowance for the second and third child is expected to go before the Cyprus parliament by the end of October 2021. If the amended bill is approved, the allowance for the second child will be increased to 22 weeks and for the third and beyond up to 26 weeks.
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