WORKPLACE DISCRIMINATION – Pregnancy Continues to be a Curse for Women in Corporate India

A handful of companies in India are doing their bit in retaining and motivating women workforce during the most important phase in the life of a woman. It may be the Vahini program, Employee Assistance Programme, Parents at work Programme of Accenture or Stock Parking, Daycare Support Program at Flipkart, Mums at Work Program at KPMG or Extended maternity Leaves at Adobe.

At the same time, there are many reputed organisations in India where women employees have to face discrimination either when they announce about their pregnancy or when they come back post maternity.

Suheli (name changed), an employee of Oracle was on her fifth month of pregnancy, who also had a facility  to work from home as part a part of the company policy was denied of such benefit by her lady boss aged 45 years. Not only this, she was pressurised in such a way at workplace which almost hinted her to put her papers down.


Anjali Bhushan says her company wanted her to resume work immediately after having her baby: BBC News.

Promotions get denied to women who go on maternity leave since promotions are performance based and not tenure based and in such case a women’s maternity leave often gets recorded as no performance

Organizations become completely insensitive to the needs of the employee. The supervisors aim at the overall team’s performance sacrificing an individual’s sentiment and hard work put before the maternity period.

Monali( name changed) an employee from one of the leading groups of TATA worked for more than decade in the organisation. She has put her complete tenure in improving the process and streamlined many deliverables. In fact she was rated in “A” category in her last appraisal. When she went for maternity leave of 3 months, a substitute employee was called in. Eventually the company policy changed the maternity policy to 6 months due to which her leaves also extended. One day she gets a call from her boss stating that her KRA’s (major responsibilities) have been handed over to that substitute employee and she has to manage with some minor work in the department which is negligible. More over those responsibilities that were planned to be given to her post maternity were sky-breaking in nature. Such responsibilities couldn’t be achieved earlier by any of the team members. This clearly reflects that she is no more required in the team. The employee is currently is traumatic state of mind.

Such level of insensitivity often comes in the form of indirect pressure and changes in the attitude of the employer both before and after the maternity leave. Most companies do not provide a crèche facility or flexible working hours forcing women to choose between career and family.

Tuhina(name changed), an employee from a leading group of Hospitals based out of Bangalore, was said “Why don’t you go on a break and resume after your delivery? You look dull.” Can we imagine a reputed hospital based out of Bangalore behaves in such a manner?

Another employee from TCS has to literally struggle to take a half day leave from her boss for her kid’s vaccination. It seems she has taken so many days of leaves during maternity.

Majority of the educational institutions in Bangalore do not provide maternity leave. But it’s difficult to prove it on papers since the employees are told to resign voluntarily which closes the chapter. There have been cases when a seventh maternity woman has been told to take five to six hours of classes in a day where each class consists of one hour.


Swagatika Das lost her job at a university after she became pregnant , BBC News

Maternity Benefit Act allows a paid leave and job protection of three months for working women but the reality is different. India’s labour courts received more than 900 complaints of denial of maternity benefits by employers between 2008 and 2012. Most of the women when discriminated during or post maternity does not approach the legal system; rather they just stop continuing to work for the organisation.

Even BBC News Reported recently that “The problem is that working women go back to work after becoming mothers, they are given less responsibility and unimportant projects since they can’t stay for long hours. Companies start considering them the weakest link in the team.”

According to a 2013 World Bank study, only 27% of the female population aged over 15 is working in India. This is the lowest rate of women’s participation in any workforce among the Brics (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) countries, with the highest in China at 64%.



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s