Employment protection - pregnant workers and employees on maternity leave


The employment relationship of a woman expecting a child is subject to special protection. The obligations of the employer with regard to the pregnant employee shall apply from the beginning of pregnancy and for the period of maternity leave until its completion. Therefore, the employee is covered by employment protection as an implementation of the special protection policy. Find out more in our article in which cases the employer may terminate the employment contract with a pregnant woman despite employment protection.

Employment protection, pregnant workers

Employment protection for a pregnant employee means that the termination of an employment contract with such an employee is possible only in two cases:

  • due to the declaration of bankruptcy or liquidation of the employer,

  • without notice for reasons attributable to it.

In addition, employment contracts concluded for a definite period, for the duration of a specific job and for a trial period exceeding one month, the termination date of which falls after the third month of pregnancy, are automatically extended by operation of law until the date of childbirth. The exception is the replacement employment contract, which is not extended until the day of giving birth.


The period of pregnancy is not counted in calendar months, but in lunar months, which is 28 days.

Termination of the employment contract of a pregnant employee

The employer has the right to terminate a woman's employment contract during pregnancy or maternity leave only in the event of bankruptcy or liquidation of the workplace. These circumstances are not covered by employment protection, but then the woman is entitled to benefits specified in separate regulations. On the other hand, the period of receiving these benefits will be determined on the basis of the employment period on which the employee's rights depend.

In the event of termination of the contract, the actual state of the woman is relevant, not the moment the employer is notified of the pregnancy. This factor may be important in a situation where the employee originally did not object to the termination of the contract, but after this fact she found out that she was expecting a child, then she is also covered by employment protection. In such circumstances, the woman has the right to demand that the termination be declared null and void. This position was taken by the Supreme Court in its judgment of 29 March 2001 (file reference number I PKN 330/00, OSNP 2003/1/11).

Example 1.

An employee employed under an employment contract for an indefinite period was terminated on July 20, 2017, the monthly notice period expired on August 31, 2017. The employee found out that she was pregnant and on August 10, 2017 informed her employer by presenting a medical certificate that she became pregnant at the beginning of July 2017. This resulted in the protection of the employee against dismissal, so the employee will continue to be employed during the period of pregnancy and maternity leave.

Group layoffs and employment protection for pregnant workers

The employer is obliged to do the same if the employee terminates the employment contract or agrees to terminate the contract by mutual agreement of the parties, if at the moment she did not know that she was pregnant. In such a situation, employment protection allows the employee to withdraw a notice or consent to terminate the employment relationship. It should be noted that an employee may not demand recognition that the employment contract continues if she was not pregnant at the time of termination of the employment contract, and became pregnant only after the termination of the employment relationship.

Employment protection for pregnant workers means that the employer cannot dismiss an employee who is expecting a child in a situation where there are collective redundancies in the company. In accordance with the law, in the case of collective redundancies, it can change the working and pay conditions. It should be noted that a pregnant woman is entitled to a compensation supplement to her salary, which is paid until the day of childbirth.

Prohibition of termination of employment for no fault of your own

Employment protection means that the employer cannot terminate the employment contract with a pregnant employee without notice for reasons not attributable to her, if the motive is:

  • inability to work due to illness lasting longer than 3 months, when the employee has been employed by the given employer for less than 6 months,

  • inability to work due to an illness lasting longer than the total period of receiving remuneration and allowance on this account and receiving a rehabilitation benefit for the first 3 months - when the employee has been employed by a given employer for at least 6 months or when the inability to work was caused by an accident at work or an occupational disease ,

  • excused absence from work lasting longer than a month due to reasons other than illness,

  • absence from work due to caring for a child or isolation due to an infectious disease - during the period of receiving benefits and remuneration for these titles.

Termination of the employment contract for the above-mentioned reasons is prohibited for the entire duration of pregnancy and maternity leave, regardless of the duration of these reasons.

To sum up, termination of the employment relationship with a pregnant employee is allowed only in exceptional situations provided for in the Labor Code. Employment protection does not allow a pregnant woman to be deprived of work, in addition, a fixed-term contract must be extended until the day of childbirth. Pregnant workers are under special protection.