Maternity/paternity leave

Maternity/paternity leave, employment conditions and equal treatment

Can you be fired while on maternity leave or paternity leave? And are you entitled to an annual salary negotiation even if you are on leave? Get help here.

The Equal Treatment Act ensures that both women and men are protected from discrimination on the grounds of gender, pregnancy and maternity/paternity leave. 

In the context of pregnancy and maternity/paternity, equal treatment rules mean, among other things, that you are protected from dismissal when you are pregnant, that your employer cannot make substantial changes to your terms of employment while you are on leave, and that an employer cannot ask about your pregnancy when you are interviewing for a job.

Here you can find answers to the most frequently asked questions about pregnancy, maternity/paternity leave,  and employment conditions.

When should I tell my employer that I am pregnant or expecting a child?

As a mother, you must notify your employer of your pregnancy ( at least 3 months before the expected date of birth. But you are only protected against dismissal during pregnancy once your employer knows you are expecting a child. 

Consider telling your employer about the baby when you let others know about the pregnancy. Confirm in writing that your employer knows about the pregnancy — for example, by writing to the employer after you have told them the news.

Can I be terminated when I am pregnant, on leave, undergoing fertility treatment or adopting?

The Equal Treatment Act protects you from being dismissed because of pregnancy, fertility treatment, maternity/paternity leave or adoption. 

This applies whether you are a permanent, probationary, temporary or fixed-term employee from the time you tell your employer that you are expecting a child. 

If you are dismissed during pregnancy or leave in connection with the birth of your child and your employer knows about the pregnancy, your employer must be able to prove that the dismissal has nothing to do with the pregnancy or leave. This can be very difficult for the employer.  

A dismissal in breach of the Equal Treatment Act may mean that you can get compensation. 

As an IDA member, you can get assistance if you have been wrongfully dismissed while on leave.

Contact IDA's legal counselling

Am I entitled to salary negotiations when I am on maternity/paternity leave?

Yes, you have the right to negotiate your salary at the same time as your colleagues — even when you are on maternity/paternity leave.

It is against the Equal Pay Act and the Equal Treatment Act if you are passed over for a pay negotiation or salary increase during your leave. 

However, you may need to ask for a salary negotiation yourself when you are on maternity/paternity leave. Contact your manager when you know that the annual salary negotiations are approaching, if your manager does not make contact.

Most workplaces — both public and private — have scheduled salary negotiations once a year. Check your contract or staff handbook to find out when you have negotiations. If you are covered by a collective agreement, the agreement will state when salary is negotiated.

Read more about salary negotiation

Am I entitled to a bonus when I am on leave?

Yes, as a mother, you are entitled to ½ pay under the law for the first 4 weeks before childbirth and 14 weeks after childbirth, and this includes bonuses. This means that you earn a bonus for the period during which you are paid. 

After maternity leave, it is up to your employer or collective agreement whether you are entitled to pay and, if so, what pay. 

Am I entitled to keep fringe benefits such as free phone, internet and car during leave?

There are different rules on how each workplace deals with personal items such as telephone, internet, car, newspaper and computer during maternity/paternity leave.

If you are allowed to keep your fringe benefits, be aware that you will be taxed on them during your leave.

Read more about taxation of employee benefits on

If you have a benefit that forms part of your salary, it is important to negotiate financial compensation if the employee benefit is withdrawn during maternity/paternity leave. This will often be relevant if you have a company car, for instance.

Contact IDA for help

Can my employer make changes to my job description while I am on leave?

You are not entitled to return to exactly the same job you had before your maternity/paternity leave or your adoption leave. But you do have the right to return to the same or an equivalent job as before you went on leave. 

If your employer cannot offer you a job equivalent to the one you had before the leave, your employment conditions must not be reduced in the new position. For example, you are entitled to keep the same salary. 

It is difficult to say exactly how big the changes in your employment conditions must be before you can effectively consider yourself dismissed. As an IDA member, you can contact IDA for advice if you are in any doubt.

Contact IDA's legal advisors

Can my employer dismiss me immediately after my leave has ended?

Your employer can always dismiss you — even during maternity/paternity leave. But if your employer dismisses you during pregnancy or leave, the employer has the burden of proof. This means that your employer must be able to prove that your dismissal has nothing to do with your pregnancy or leave.

At the end of the leave, the burden of proof is shared. This means that you, as the employee, must prove that the leave was connected with the dismissal. If it is clear that the decision to terminate was taken during the leave, the burden of proof shifts to the employer. If the employer cannot prove that the leave had nothing to do with the dismissal, you are entitled to compensation under the Equal Treatment Act.

Contact IDA if you have been dismissed for leave and you are unsure whether it is because of the leave. 

Contact IDA for legal advice

When should you declare that you are pregnant if you are applying for a job?

You are obliged to tell an employer about your pregnancy at least 3 months before the expected date of birth. 

However, the Equal Treatment Act states that you cannot be discriminated against on the grounds of pregnancy. 

If you tell your employer about your pregnancy during a job interview, you run the risk of being rejected in the recruitment process. This would be in breach of the Equal Treatment Act, but in practice it is extremely difficult to prove that your pregnancy was the reason you were not offered the job. 

Unfortunately, IDA has experienced that pregnancy can influence employers not to make professional qualifications the deciding factor. However, many employers, particularly larger companies and organisations, will handle the announcement of pregnancy professionally. 

Your job situation may also affect when you tell others about your pregnancy. Are you unemployed or in between jobs? Some people feel more comfortable sharing the news straight away, while others are afraid to take the risk. 

It's important not to feel guilty about being pregnant. Instead, focus on your professional qualifications. The rules are clear: As an applicant, you are not obliged to disclose information about the baby on its way. Pregnancy is a private matter, and the law is designed to ensure that you can't be rejected just because you're pregnant.

Can employers ask about pregnancy or whether you are planning to have children at an interview?

No, an employer may not ask if you are pregnant or considering having children at the interview, as the employer may not use this answer in the selection process between applicants anyway. 

If you are asked about it anyway, you are not obliged to answer and you can safely say no to the question. You may want to ask in a friendly way what relevance it has to the position and thus signal that you are not falling for anything.