Pregnant and pursuing permanent contract after fixed term contract

15 posts in this topic

Hi all,

I am in a tricky situation in my current job and I'd be grateful for any advice you can offer.

I was hired as a maternity replacement employee for 1 year. Later, my contract was extended by another 1 year which will expire in September 2021.

The colleague who I was substituting has returned some six months ago and since then my responsibilities have been changed to include new areas and topics.

 

Now, I am a few months pregnant and my maternity leave starts on September 30, meaning my last day at work is on September 29.

I do not expect that they will extend my contract despite good performance and real need of people in the team - the reason I was given: budget.

 

However, there are two factors due to which I think I can claim a permanent contract.

 

1. Another colleague of mine who was also hired temporarily to replace another employee on maternity leave has been promised a permanent contract and it will be finalized soon.

For the longest time, she was also denied a permanent contract citing budget reasons but now it seems like she will get one unlike me. 

In this scenario, can I claim for an extension too (though I am pregnant)? 

 

2. In the meantime, I was put on a transfer list to a new company that will be demerged out of the current company. The announcement said that all employees on the transfer list have protection and that they will have the same contract terms in the new company as they currently do. The actual job descriptions and offers were supposed to come through by now but they have not.

The rumor I hear is that some employees on the transfer list might not be offered anything in the end. In my case, I have the feeling that this might be due to the news of my pregnancy. 

 

Can I claim a contract in this scenario?

 

Thanks and sorry if this is too detailed and specific. Hoping for some hints.

  

 

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I believe you are looking at situations 1 and 2 from the wrong view point.

 

Situation 1: The colleague who you temporarily replaced has now returned. Your other colleague will be able to continue working for the company, she is not pregnant.

 

Situation 2:I assume the transfer list is for colleagues with a permament contract. Why would you be put on a transfer list if your contract finishes in September anyway? 

 

You could spend a lot of money on a laywer to fight your case or accept that your contract will end as agreed and make sure you get a really good reference. 

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Regarding situation 1, maybe I should have added, the employee who my colleague was substituting is also returning soon. If they can accommodate my colleague all of a sudden, they should be able to do the same for me unless the only reason they won't is my pregnancy and this can be interpreted as discrimination.

 

Regarding situation 2, well, they put a huge list of employees on the transfer list based on the time they spent working with the company section that will now be spun off into a new company. They had not mentioned any caveats or conditions that indicated that the transfer is only for permanent employees. In fact, HR had an official meeting with each employee on the transfer list including me and explained that it means that we will be offered new contracts by the new company at some point by June. Therefore, I have the grounds to expect a contract. But I'm not sure about legalities in this matter. 

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3 hours ago, MeelaK said:

this can be interpreted as discrimination.

I'm not a lawyer, but as I understand the relevant laws, if your temporary contract isn't extended - for whatever reason - you have little to no recourse.

 

Pregnancy gives you employment protection if you're on a permanent contract. It does not guarantee you a contract extension if your temporary contract lapses before or during the pregnancy. I don't know what the laws are like in your country, but employers don't need to justify non-renewal of temporary contracts in Germany.

 

I'm not sure whether or how the fact that your colleague was offered a permanent contract factors into this, but I suspect it won't.

 

You're welcome to consult a lawyer, but consider that very few long-term relationships are aided by one party suing the other.

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1 hour ago, El Jeffo said:

I'm not sure whether or how the fact that your colleague was offered a permanent contract factors into this, but I suspect it won't.

 

You're welcome to consult a lawyer, but consider that very few long-term relationships are aided by one party suing the other.

 

Thanks for your feedback. I read this on a site called arbeitsvertrag.org: 

Diesbezüglich gibt es allerdings eine Ausnahme: Sind mehrere Frauen gleichzeitig mit einem befristeten Arbeitsvertrag eingestellt worden und alle anderen, abgesehen von der Schwangeren, erhielten einen unbefristeten Vertrag, verstößt dies gegen das Recht auf Gleichbehandlung.  /  There is, however, one exception to this : If several women have been hired at the same time with a fixed-term employment contract and all others, apart from the pregnant woman , are given an open-ended contract , this violates the right to equal treatment .

 

 

Therefore, I want to make sure I'm being treated fairly.

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You quoted "several" women. I don't believe two = several in the legal definition.

 

But you're welcome to try. Best of luck to you.

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I've noted that of course but what are the chances of that happening in one company - several women on fixed-term getting pregnant and only one being offered a permanent contract. Anyway, I have to keep looking for more info about this.   

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5 hours ago, MeelaK said:

Regarding situation 1, maybe I should have added, the employee who my colleague was substituting is also returning soon. If they can accommodate my colleague all of a sudden, they should be able to do the same for me unless the only reason they won't is my pregnancy and this can be interpreted as discrimination.

To play devils advocate, it could be that the other person is doing a different job, has different qualifications,  or has different skills to you. It could also be that they are percieved (rightly or wrongly) to be more flexible in their work, more thorough etc.  There are many reasons that one person will get a particular position and another will not and pregnancy may not have entered the thought process when they offered the other person a position.
Sadly, while being on a time limited contract may get you close to the head of the list when a position becomes available, it does not always mean that you will be the person to get the job.

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The question in my mind is if you really want a job in that company or do you want money?

If you go after your employer and accuse them of discrimination this might destroy the base for a long-term trusting work relationship. Are you sure they are not willing to offer you another temporary contract after maternity leave? 

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@SusieT Both my colleague and I have exact same title and level in the team, both highly evaluated for our performances. We have the same job description and perceived as experts. In fact, I have received excellent review in the recent performance evaluation. We both have skills that team needs and we bring a lot to the team. She was also denied new contract for a long time but only recently was offered one. I am happy for her but want to know why I am not considered for a permanent role too.

 

@Namu First, I want to understand why I am at a disadvantage. I am not after money. I am highly interested in staying in the company and returning after the maternity leave. I will consult the HR and my boss about any faint possibility. Of course I don't want to burn any bridges and want to take the next steps carefully. But I don't want to realise later on that I was treated unfairly and I could have spoken against that.

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Does you company have a works council - Betriebsrat - and have you spoken to him/her?

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My wife was in the exact same situation as you two years ago. Her time limited contract ran out during Mutterschutz. If she wasn't pregnant then she probably would have got a permanent contract. It sucks, but that's kind of the way it works. I don't know how it works in your company but often it is the case that one or two times a year each department will get the go ahead to convert a limited number of employees to permanent. If your department only got one headcount then it's between you and the other employee. It's sounds like you both perform well so it could be a case of you just losing the toin coss (although probably the pregnancy helped make the decision in reality).Germany has really good employee protection laws, which is great, but the result is that employers are reluctant to hand out permanent contracts and limited time contracts are rife. They are just letting your contract expire.

 

My wife ended up getting another time limited contact after her Elternzeit and has since been converted to a permanent employee. So it might be best not to burn your bridges by taking legal action?

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@maxie not yet. I plan to do so after getting a bit of understanding from HR and my boss.

@theGman For the last few months, they told both of us that due to the lack of headcount budget, they cannot offer us permanent contracts. The budget has been defined already at the end of last year. But now, they have offered my colleague one. I have absolutely no info on how that came about.

Glad to know that your wife finally got a permanent contract. Legal action is the last thing I want to think about. Just wanted to know what the clear rules are regarding this type of situation. Thanks for sharing the experience of your wife.

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You mentioned your colleagues has waited a very long time for a permanent contract. Is that time longer than the less than 2 years  it seems you have worked? You also mentioned the person you replaced has returned is that the same for your colleague? You mentioned new tasks, sounds like they accomodated youwhen the person returned, was the colleague given new tasks as well or remains in same job as originally hired? Also as far as reviews how would you know that your review is as good as or better as a colleagues? Is the coworker in the same department? Or is it your department the one that is being split off? Many times what appears the be apples to apples turns out to be apples to oranges. As previously  mentioned they proabaly owe you nothing at end of the contract date especially if all comaprisions are not equal like lengh of time, duties, dept  etc. Take  step back and make sure you are comparing the situation objectively before any confrontation. They position of saying person a b or c got something why didn't I is never a good negotiation position. As mentioned be careful not to burn a bridge.

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@lunasuenos Yes, we're in the same department in the same role at the same level. You can understand the role as project managers but with different projects of similar nature. She will complete 2 yrs in the company this month. I am in my 20th month. Her predecessor will return in a few weeks, mine has returned 6 months ago. My predecessor has returned to the same set of tasks as before. But from the very beginning, I was given a wider set of responsibilities compared to hers. After her return, I have handed over her part. Then I was given more responsibilities in another area in addition to what remained from the original description.

 

I'm fully aware that there might be factors that could make our cases incomparable. However, based on the few facts I know for sure, I am convinced I should seek more info to be sure that I am not shortchanged just because I did not understand the situation. 

So far no luck finding any reliable info.

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