Discrimination due to pregnancy and family leave
Discrimination on the basis of pregnancy and family leave is prohibited under the Equality Act. The reported cases cover all stages of employment and public service relationships. Typical situations involve hiring, extension of fixed-term contracts and returning to work from family leave.
Gender-based discrimination includes treating someone differently for reasons of pregnancy or childbirth or treating someone differently on the basis of parenthood or family responsibilities.
When employing a person or selecting someone for a particular training, the employer may not bypass an individual for reasons of pregnancy, childbirth or family leave. Nor is it permitted on the basis of the above reasons to dismiss the employee or limit the length or continuation of their employment relationship. It is also prohibited to treat someone unfavourably with regards to decisions on wages and other employment conditions for reasons of pregnancy or family leave.
In practice these regulations are of particular importance regarding fixed-term contracts. For example, the employer may not bypass an applicant because of pregnancy when choosing an applicant for a fixed-term contract. Also, a temporary contract cannot be limited so as to last only until the beginning of the period of maternal, paternal or parental leave, nor can a decision be made not to renew a contract because of pregnancy or family leave if the work itself is to continue. A replacement may be hired for a fixed-term employee while they are on family leave.
Do you suspect discrimination?
- If you suspect that you have been discriminated against you can receive instructions and guidance from the Ombudsman for Equality.
- In cases of discrimination at work:
If you are a member of a trade union you should get in touch with the union steward and find out your rights.
- Guidance from the Ombudsman for Equality is free. The trade union membership fee includes the right to legal advice.
- You can also contact a legal aid council, a lawyer's office or a lawyer. You will usually be charged for legal services. Check if you have the kind of legal expenses insurance which covers your legal expenses.
If you are of limited means you may be entitled to the services of a legal aid council for free or for a reduced fee.
Statements on discrimination due to pregnancy and family leaves
- Suspected discrimination on the basis of pregnancy in recruitment (TAS 338/2019, issued on 6 April 2020)
- Statement by the Ombudsman for Equality on the family leave reform (TAS 32/2020, issued on 3 March 2020)
- Suspected discrimination on the basis of pregnancy in temporary agency work in the construction sector (TAS 158/2019, issued on 9 January 2020)
- Instructions of the Finnish Patent and Registration Office on maintaining the approval prerequisites of auditors after family leave (TAS 300/2019, issued on 22 November 2019)
- Suspected case of discrimination regarding the dismissal of an employee after their return from family leave (TAS 238/2019, issued on 8 November 2019)