In a recent Workplace Relations Commission (WRC) decision in August, an employee was found to have been unfairly dismissed by a creche due to pregnancy. The employee was awarded six months’ financial loss as compensation.

The WRC also held that non-renewal of a fixed-term contract of the pregnant woman amounted to a refusal to engage a pregnant woman contrary to the Directive. Whilst the employee did not have 12 month’s service (required generally to bring a claim for unfair dismissal), there is no service requirement where the dismissal may be attributable to pregnancy or pregnancy related matters.

Employers should note that there is no prohibition against fixed-term contracts of employment expiring and which are not renewed by them, unless the non-renewal is motivated by the worker’s pregnancy or pregnancy related matters. In essence employers need to tread very carefully whilst an employee is pregnant or on protective leave.

It should also be noted in this case that the employee also received compensation of 1,000 euro under S10 of the Protection of Employees (Fixed-Term Work) Act 2003. This award was made because the employee was not informed of vacancies for permanent employment at the creche.

The employee was also awarded 1,500 euro for non-payment of annual leave and 5 public holidays which she was due for the period of her maternity leave under the Maternity Protection Acts 1994-2004.

A copy of the link to the full decision can be found here