SINGAPORE: AWARE Singapore has come out to say that they were saddened by the reactions a woman received when she shared how she was passed over for a promotion because she went on maternity leave.

In her post, the woman took to social media complaining about the lack of gender equality when she went on maternity leave. She said that a male colleague of hers was promoted over her while she was on maternity leave. “I also didnt get my bonus in 2022 coz of “budget issues” but my colleague got a performing bonus”, she wrote.

In a series of Twitter posts on Tuesday (Jan 17), AWARE (Association of Women for Action & Research) wrote: “We are saddened by the reaction that this woman received when she shared her experience of maternity discrimination on social media. The woman recounted being passed over for promotion while serving maternity leave, and missing out on her 2022 bonus”. 

They continued: “The reactions reported in the article—that “based on merit alone… her male colleague deserved the promotion”—are reflective of a widespread misunderstanding of equality and equity, stemming from entrenched stereotypical gender roles.

Women should not be passed over for promotion on the basis of family responsibilities (which, after all, workers of all genders have). Women are also still entitled to performance bonus despite not “working” for the entire year due to leave entitlements.
If necessary, a bonus could be pro-rated for an employee who was on leave for a significant part of the year, but an outright denial of bonus is an erasure of the work done by an employee when they were not on leave.
Pregnancy/maternity leave represent especially vulnerable stages for working women, because of all the ways in which they can be discriminated. Our Workplace Harassment and Discrimination Advisory saw 71 maternity discrimination cases in 2021 (81% of total discrim cases in 2021).
Many of these clients similarly experienced discrimination after returning from maternity leave. We therefore empathise with the woman’s frustrated question: “How can govt and companies expect women to participate fully in the workforce when we get passed over like this.”
We urge the govt to ensure that maternity protections cover all stages of employment, including returning mothers, and to embark on more public education as to why such fair practices are critical—both for the good of working mothers and for S’pore’s economy and fertility rate”

In an anonymous post to popular confessions page SGWhispers, the 29-year-old woman wrote that she just gave birth to her first child. She added that she worked in a corporate, finance-related company. “I took my maternity leave which I am entitled to la”, she added. In her post, she wrote that when she had dinner with a superior who was not her direct boss, he confirmed that she was passed over because she was on maternity leave.

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“Am I expected to wfh while on maternity? How can govt and companies expect women to participate fully in the workforce when we get passed over like this. I also can’t leave this company coz tbh, I am an average corporate employee and its the same everywhere. And also honestly, this direct boss is not too bad la, all things considered”, the woman wrote.

Netizens were quite unanimous in the comments and said that the woman chose to go ahead with her family while her colleague worked and took on more tasks. Based on merit alone, they wrote that her male colleague deserved the promotion.