Your letters: My friend terminated from job for being pregnant

The following letter came from Lee, 29, administrator

 Dear editor,

 I have read several worker’s related articles on your site and thought I’d thought I would seek your opinion on what my friend can do. I have a friend who is 28 years old and about to go on her maternity leave soon. What happened was, her boss called up her colleague to suggest that she leave the company as there wasn’t a lot more that she can contribute at work.

The pitiful thing is, she used up all 60 days hospitalization leave due to complication of the pregnancy, was on unpaid hospitalization leave when the boss (called up her colleague to) ask her to resign.

 I want to ask a few things:

a.) Can a company ask a worker to leave because she’s about to go on maternity leave?

b.) If it is illegal, surely the company will “terminate” you with other reasons (no use for you, no money to pay you, poor performance etc) what then?

c.) Apart from MOM, what other organisations can she go to for assistance?

 Sincerely, Lee

Our reply:

Dear Lee,

Firstly, this isn’t legal advice. But to very quickly answer your questions:

 a.) No, the company cannot ask a woman going on maternity leave, to leave. Doing so is a statutory offence and you can raise this directly to the Ministry of Manpower.

b.) Now if there really has been exceptional financial problems the company is facing, or if your friend actually was ill disciplined, then well… it is a very tough negotiation. Which brings me to the next point:

c.) Where there are clear offences, go directly to MOM. They will deal with the company. But where the offence is not as clear… then you will do better asking a union for assistance. Unions are employee centric labour-rights forces that have soft power in negotiations in a company. However, they only have power if a company is unionised. Tell your friend to ask her colleagues. Besides the negotiations, she can ask for legal advice and if she really had financial problems, the unions can help to mitigate.

 I hope this would be helpful.

Sincerely, Tay Leong Tan


  1. As an addenum, engage a lawyer to write directly to the company putting the above telephone conversation on record.

    The smart thing for them to do is to deny the conversation ever having taken place.

    Once they deny the conversation has taken place, they can’t contradict that denial by terminating your friend can they?

    Hope this helps.

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