Isn’t it illegal to fire someone due to pregnancy?

Friday August 14 2020

Dear Caroline,
I recently got a better job in another company. However, a few months down the road, when my boss realised I was pregnant, I got fired. Don’t pregnant mothers have a right to equal job opportunities? What can I do? I need to have a job, I can’t just sit home through the nine months of pregnancy yet I am able to execute my job well. Sarah

Dear Sarah,
I understand that this must be a very stressful and frightening time for you- it is always difficult to be fired, but this is especially true when you are pregnant, which is a time of particular financial and emotional strain.
The first step in addressing such an issue is to gather the facts. If you were a full-time employee, your company should have given you a contract for your job. This contract will have important information, such as how much notice they must give you before terminating your contract.

The organisation that you were working for may have had a human resource manual. If you have access to this, you should read it and try to find any policies regarding pregnancy or maternity. An organisation’s human resource manual should also outline their policies for dismissing staff.

Additionally, the organisation that you were working for should have given you a letter of dismissal when they fired you. This should outline their reason for dismissing you.

It is also essential to understand your legal rights. According to Uganda’s 2006 Employment Act, it is illegal to fire someone due to their pregnancy. Additionally, the 2006 Employment Act states that an employer should explain to the employee the reason for their dismissal.

Upon gathering such information, you should bring your concerns to the labour office if any of the following apply to you: you were not given an appropriate amount of notice before being fired, you were not given any explanation for the reason for your dismissal, you were told that the reason for dismissal was due to your pregnancy, or you were given another reason which you believe to be a cover-up for firing you due to your pregnancy.

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In order to file a complaint with the labour office, you must have been working for your employer for at least 13 weeks and must file a complaint within 6 months of dismissal. A labour officer will then investigate your claims and take relevant action if found to be true. I hope that this information is useful.

Caroline Mboijana,
Managing Director, The Leadership Team (U)
cmboijana@gmail.com

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