Pregnancy and work: what are your rights in Luxembourg?
If you have just found out that you are expecting a baby, congratulations! Before you get started with your preparations for the new arrival, myLIFE takes a look at your rights as a mother-to-be, which cover the procedures to be followed with your employer, your salary during maternity leave, and the protection and special arrangements to which you are entitled.
Sophia is in her thirties and has just found out that she is expecting a baby. As an employee in Luxembourg, she is entitled to certain advantages and protection aimed at safeguarding her health and that of her baby.
How should she notify her employer and the Caisse Nationale de Santé (CNS) of her pregnancy?
To qualify for the protection reserved for pregnant women and nursing mothers, Sophia must notify her employer by providing a medical certificate certifying that she is pregnant at least 10 weeks before her due date. The certificate can be sent by registered letter with acknowledgement of receipt, handed over in person to the employer (who must sign a copy of the certificate), or sent by fax or email in a legible copy.
Once the employer has been notified, Sophia is entitled to certain protection for the full term of her pregnancy and up to 12 weeks after giving birth.
In addition to this, a medical certificate indicating the due date of the baby must be sent to the CNS to ensure that Sophia is entitled to maternity leave. The certificate must be issued during the final 12 weeks of pregnancy to be valid.
Pregnant women are entitled to maternity leave if they have been a member of the mandatory social security scheme for at least 6 of the previous 12 months.
How does the entitlement to maternity leave work?
Pregnant women who work in Luxembourg (with a permanent, fixed-term or seasonal employment contract, or an apprenticeship) are entitled to maternity leave if they have been a member of the mandatory social security scheme for at least 6 of the previous 12 months.
Maternity leave includes:
- Pre-natal maternity leave for 8 weeks prior to the due date;
- Post-natal maternity leave for 12 weeks after the birth.
If the baby is born before the due date, any untaken pre-natal entitlement is added to post-natal maternity leave (with a maximum of 20 weeks of maternity leave in total). If the baby is born after the due date, the pre-natal maternity leave is extended up to the date of the birth, but the post-natal leave remains unaffected. Sophia can use the CNS simulator to calculate the key dates of her pregnancy.
→ Useful info: maternity leave is considered as time worked. So Sophia will keep her annual holiday entitlement. Any leave not taken at the start of her maternity leave can be carried forward within the legal time limits. In addition, maternity leave will be included in her length of service calculation.
Salary entitlement during maternity leave
Throughout her maternity leave, Sophia is no longer paid by her employer. She will receive maternity benefits from the CNS, provided she has been a member of the mandatory social security scheme for at least 6 of the 12 months preceding her maternity leave.
The benefits received correspond to her salary prior to maternity leave, capped at 5 times the minimum wage. If Sophia is self-employed, her benefits are calculated on the basis of her earnings subject to social security contributions at the time of her maternity leave.
Once the employer has been notified of her condition, Sophia cannot be dismissed during the full term of her pregnancy and up to 12 weeks after the birth.
To what type of arrangements and protection are pregnant women and/or nursing mothers entitled?
Before the birth:
Hiring protection: pregnant women looking for work are under no obligation to inform their potential employer of their pregnancy. This information is part of the candidate’s private life.
Time off work to attend pre-natal medical examinations: if Sophia’s medical examinations in connection with her pregnancy are scheduled during working hours, she has the right to attend these without salary loss.
→ Useful info: pregnant women must attend at least five medical examinations and one dental examination during pregnancy in order to qualify for the pre-natal allowance. This allowance of EUR 580.03 is the first of three instalments of the birth allowance, paid upon request and under certain conditions.
Before and after the birth
Protection against dismissal: once the employer has been notified of her condition, Sophia cannot be dismissed during the full term of her pregnancy and up to 12 weeks after the birth. If this condition is not respected, Sophia has 15 days to appeal against dismissal on the grounds of invalidity. After this period, she can start legal proceedings for unfair dismissal.
→ Useful info: if the contract is ended before the medical certificate has been provided to the employer, the mother-to-be has 8 days to provide it (starting from receipt of the dismissal letter). The dismissal must then by cancelled.
NB: in the event of gross misconduct by a pregnant woman, the employer can lay the woman off with immediate effect and file a request at the Luxembourg Labour Court for authorisation to rescind the contract.
Protection during the probationary period: a woman hired on a permanent contract who finds herself pregnant during the probationary period is entitled to suspension of the probationary period once she has provided the medical certificate to her employer. The remaining probationary period will resume 12 weeks after the birth. In contrast, the probationary period for a fixed-term contract is not interrupted.
The employer is obliged to hold the job of the pregnant woman and reallocate it to her after her return from maternity leave.
Arrangements for dangerous work: a pregnant woman or nursing mother may not carry out certain dangerous work that would present a risk to her health or that of her child. Such work includes heavy lifting, work with the risk of falls, contact with certain chemical substances etc. Depending on the nature of the risk, the employer must adapt the woman’s job, allocate to her a different position, or grant her time off. In the latter case, she will receive a maternity allowance from the CNS.
Arrangements for night work: a pregnant woman or nursing mother can also request exemption from night work (10 pm to 6 am) from her employer, until her child is 1 year old. If the medical officer considers that there is a risk to her health or safety, the employer must transfer her to a daytime job (at the same salary) or grant her time off.
After the birth:
Job retention: the employer is obliged to keep Sophie’s job available and to reallocate it to her after she returns from maternity leave. If this is not possible, the employer must offer her a similar position in line with her qualifications, with a salary that is at least equivalent to that of her previous job. Any advantages acquired before her maternity leave must also be maintained.
Organisation of working hours for breastfeeding: if Sophia wishes to continue breastfeeding after the end of her maternity leave, she can request that her working hours be arranged accordingly. She is entitled to:
- two periods of 45 minutes to be taken at the start and end of her working hours; or
- a single 90-minute period during the working day (if there is only a one-hour break during the working day or if the child is not close to the workplace).
This breastfeeding time is treated as paid working time.
Termination of the employment contract after maternity leave: if Sophia does not wish to return to her job at the end of her maternity leave so that she can continue to take care of her child (this is the only valid reason), she is entitled to resign from her job without prior notice. However, she remains entitled to priority for rehiring for a year.
→ Useful info: once the baby is born, one of the two parents is eligible for parental leave. However, there are certain deadlines that must be respected when making such a request (at least two months before the start of maternity leave) and certain conditions are attached, more information is available here: parental leave.
Sophia is now aware of her rights as a mother-to-be, and feels reassured by the advantages to which she is entitled in the workplace. She now has the peace of mind to prepare for the arrival of her baby, devoting herself to her pregnancy and the wonderful adventure ahead.