Can I Be Fired While On Maternity Leave in NH?

According to the NH Commission for Human Rights, you cannot be fired or laid off while on maternity leave if it’s related to your temporary disability; however, you may be fired or laid off from a general and legitimate lay-off for performance requirements.

What else does the Commission say about the rights of pregnant employees?

1. Is a pregnant woman entitled to maternity leave?

Yes, an employer must grant a female employee leave for the period of time she is physically disabled due to pregnancy, childbirth or related medical conditions.

2. Is there a set period of time for maternity leave?

No, there is no set period of time for maternity leave. It is based on the period she is disabled as determined by a physician, usually the employee’s personal doctor.

3. Is the employee entitled to full pay while on maternity leave?

The general rule is that pregnancy must be treated in the same manner that the employer treats other temporary physical disabilities. Therefore, if the employer continues to pay other temporarily disabled employees, it must pay pregnant women. If the employer requires use of vacation and/or sick leave for temporary disabilities, then it may require the same for pregnancy.

4. Is the employee entitled to her job back after she recovers from childbirth?

When the employee is physically able to return to work, her original job or a comparable position must be made available to her by the employer unless business necessity makes this impossible or unreasonable.

5. If the position is filled by another employee while the original employee is on maternity leave and the employer prefers the temporary replacement, can the employer refuse to provide the original job for the returning employee?

No, any change in position for the returning employee must be made for reasons of business necessity. An employer’s preference for one employee over the other cannot be a factor in this decision.

6. Can an employee be laid off or fired while pregnant or on maternity leave?

No, an employee cannot be laid off or fired while pregnant or on leave for reasons related to her temporary disability. However, an employee while pregnant or on maternity leave is not immune from a general and legitimate lay off of employees for performance requirements.

To find out more about rights for pregnant employees, go to the NH Commission for Human Rights.

If you believe you have been discriminated against by your employer because of your age, sex, sexual orientation, race,  physical or mental disability,  religion or pregnancy status, contact the Lawyer Referral Service.  LRS can refer you to competent attorneys who specifically handle discrimination matters in New Hampshire.  Call 603-229-0002 or request an online referral.