Maternity Madness

“After only four months in her new job as a client relationship manager at a global firm, Esther (not her real name) was doing well, pulling in S$250,000 in sales.So when the 30-year-old found out that she was one-month pregnant with her second child, she was not worried – rather, she felt that it was “only right” to inform her company so that it could plan ahead.

But the company dropped a bombshell: “I was on leave, on a short vacation overseas, when the company wrote to me to say I had been terminated. No reason given, nothing,” said Esther.

When she returned to work and pursued the matter, she was told by her human resource department that it was a “management decision” and she would be compensated one month’s salary.”

Above is an extract from ‘When having a baby changes your life … Wrongful dismissal complaints filed by pregnant women up 33%‘ an article by Teo Xuanwei in the Today paper.

In a country that considers her limited population to be its only natural resource, and has been desperately trying to bring up its birth rates for years, this piece of news just feels so…wrong.

I am not even remotely close to being a mother, yet the dissatisfaction from the lack of balance in my life when I was working has already made me take a long break. That is why I bow down to my friends who are working mothers. From waking at 5am to cook the entire family’s meals for the whole day before going to work; to those who have no time for themselves because they are juggling work and studies and young children and elderly parents; to those who stay back long after office hours to finish up as much work as they can so they can focus on spending quality time with their children… the working mothers I know all make huge sacrifices to fulfill their obligations both at work and at home, and I believe they deserve better.

Sure, some may argue that if we were to examine the article closely, there were “only” 112 such cases of wrongful dismissal complaints. However, it is wrong to assume that every female member of our workforce who gets wrongfully dismissed will file such a complaint; or have the means, knowledge, or resources to get in touch with someone who can render some form of help. Many will resign to their fates and start looking for their next source of employment because there is no point fighting with a company. Many will suffer in silence. And many, many more, will accept that they are as redundant as their companies have made them feel. After all, tough as nails as we all are normally, losing your livelihood out of the blue can send anybody’s world into a tailspin.

And while I acknowledge that most employers are supportive of their employees (or at least obliged to be due to legal reasons ), being dismissed because you were biologically designed to be the one carrying a baby into term is just ridiculous.

Why should women have to sacrifice the quality of their lives and risk losing their income when they wish to become mothers?

Why should women have to choose between getting pregnant and their careers?

Since when did pregnancy become a disability?

People never cease to remind us that our biological clocks are tick-tocking away, yet when the intrepid ones amongst us who are amazing enough to handle work and family and a growing belly obey their body clocks (and their government), they are punished for it.

Doesn’t seem right, does it?

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