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  1. Blog
  2. Research
  3. June 17, 2019

30% of Women Say Job or Responsibilities Have Changed While on Maternity Leave

An illegal practice that affects more than one in four working mothers

30% of Women Say Job or Responsibilities Have Changed While on Maternity Leave

By Emily McCrary-Ruiz-Esparza

We asked 600 working mothers who have taken maternity leave whether their job or job responsibilities changed while on parental leave.

More than one in four women say that while they were on maternity or adoptive leave, their jobs or responsibilities changed.

Some women return from maternity leave to find their jobs have changed beyond recognition: they have been demoted (formally or informally), their desks have been moved, major clients or accounts permanently given to another employee, they are passed over for earned promotions or raises, or are even laid off or fired.

Practices like these are considered pregnancy discrimination or parental discrimination and are illegal. Unfortunately, it still happens.

The Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) protects a worker’s job for 12 weeks while on parental leave. The act does not provide pay and does not apply to all workers in the United States and does not protect a worker’s job beyond the 12 weeks, if the mother or child has continuing health concerns, for example.

Discrimination on the basis of parental status is a violation of Executive Order 13152, signed in May of 2000, and  pregnancy discrimination violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.


Survey of 663 mothers in April 2019.

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Photo of Emily McCrary-Ruiz-Esparza

Emily was previously on staff at InHerSight, where she researched and wrote about data that described women in the workplace, specifically societal barriers to advancement, and workplace rights. Her bylines include Fast Company and The Glossary Co.

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