Labour Commission warns employers against firing pregnant employees

The National Labour Commission (NLC) has warned that it is unlawful for an employer to terminate the employment of a woman due to pregnancy.

It has also warned employers, who prescribe a period of completed service as a condition for granting maternity leave with pay that such an action is unlawful.

The Chairman of the Commission, Mr Joseph Ayitey, was speaking at a sensitization workshop on the Labour Act, for members of the Greater Accra regional branch of the Ghana National Association of Proprietors of Private Schools in Accra.

A statement issued in Accra, on Tuesday, and signed by Mr Mohammed Affum, Public Relations Officer of the NLC said, most prescribed conditions for enjoying maternity were contained in employment contracts, which it said were in contravention of the Labour Act.

It advised workers facing such problems to alert the Commission for action to be taken on the matter.

Mr Ayitey made the intervention duding question time after a presentation on maternity leave for female workers.

The proprietors expressed concern over teachers, who gave birth yearly, as well as, those who, for health reasons, were granted sick leave from the beginning of their pregnancy to childbirth.

They said in both cases, they incurred extra cost to engage temporary teachers on the same terms and conditions as permanent workers.

The NLC Chairman explained that paid maternity leave was part of the measures aimed at promoting and protecting the health, safety and economic wellbeing of pregnant and nursing mothers.

“It is also a necessary condition for securing equality and reducing discrimination against women in employment, as well as recognising the reproductive role of women to replenish labour for productive work,” he said.

According to Mr Ayitey, the body of a woman undergoes changes during pregnancy and childbirth and a woman worker needed sufficient time to rest for the body to heal as well as time for exclusive breastfeeding to babies for their survival and healthy development in the interest of society.

Commenting on problems encountered by workers in their attempts to form or join trade unions, Mr Dennis Vormawor, Deputy Chairman of the NLC, said the paradigm shift that the Labour Act expected from parties to industrial relations had not occurred, especially, among employers.

He said that was why there were reported cases of employers’ resistance to the formation or joining of trade unions by workers, which was a right granted by the 1992 Constitution and the Labour Act.

He conceded that the militant posture of trade unions in the past had influenced employer attitude towards trade unions, but there was now the need for employers to see unions as partners working together for increase productivity and profit for their mutual benefit.

Source: GNA

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