Groundhog Day

Sep 24 2009 by Derek Torres Print This Article

Happy back to school, everyone. After a few weeks off, I'm back with more tales from the workplace. Don't worry, I'll be addressing the swine flu (or H1N1 if you prefer) soon enough, but first, I want to mention an article that I came across this morning.

Every time I read such articles, I feel like Bill Murray in Groundhog Day. It's like we're stuck in 1959 and it keeps repeating, repeating, repeating, etc. The topic? Women sacked during maternity leave.

I'll admit that I often have a bias against my own country (the US), as I expect it to set a good example, yet I'm often disappointed. However, we're not the usual offender this time – now, the award goes to Australia.

It seems that companies there are feeling quite brave – despite a long-standing law that guarantees a woman her job during and upon return from pregnancy, this hasn't stopped some knuckleheads from doing as they please.

In some cases, women have had hard enough time just getting their right to have maternity leave. It offends me greatly (not least of all as a father) that there are people out there who find maternity leave a nuisance and force the choice of "a job or a kid" on women, despite legislation to the contrary.

It also offends me that these company may be run by men whose own wives or mothers may have benefited from these laws yet seek to deny others their protections, or even women who may be treating other women like this (especially in cases where they themselves took advantage of such protections).

Fortunately, it seems that ladies are doing the right thing and taking such cases to the Workplace Ombudsman for resolution. Faced with the law, employers will have little choice but to comply if and when proven to be in the wrong.