Employees at a company are almost like components in a machine. They all need to fit into their specific role properly and must perform certain tasks in order for the rest of the machine or employee group to function optimally. When one person does not come to work for multiple weeks, that can be a major hindrance to a company’s productivity or standard workflow.

Such problems are one reason that most companies have strict attendance policies. However, there are life circumstances that necessitate taking a leave of absence. Receiving medical care, helping a loved one heal or having a new child are scenarios where an otherwise diligent employee may need to make a reasonable request for an extended leave of absence.

Under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), those who welcome new family members into their household, including expected mothers, have the right to take up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave. Can your employer demote you or try to pay you less when you come back from your maternity or FMLA leave?

You should have the right to resume the same work as before

Under the FMLA, a qualified worker who takes necessary leave has the right to return to the same job with the same compensation. Employers should not discriminate against workers who require leave, including women who take a full 12 weeks off following the birth of their child.

Some companies try to push pregnant workers to quit by claiming they don’t offer maternity leave. While the federal government does not mandate that your employer provide you with paid leave of any sort, the company does not have to offer paid maternity leave for you to be able to take FMLA leave and return to the same job.

Demoting you or cutting your pay is an example of discrimination

Pregnancy is a protected medical condition that an employer should not use as a basis for any sort of employment decisions. A woman having a child in no way impacts her ability to continue performing her job or developing her career.

When companies penalize workers for taking a leave of absence, the workers facing negative repercussions may be able to take legal action against their company for their discriminatory practices.