What to do if...? Pregnant on a Fixed-Term Contract

Pregnant on a Fixed-Term Contract

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What If I Get Pregnant on a Temporary Contract?

  • You are protected by law and must be treated fairly as a pregnant fixed-term employee.
  • Pregnancy may serve as an advantage in the renewal of your short-term contract.
  • Financial resources are available to you if your contract ends.

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Pregnant – Will My Contract Job End at the Agreed Date?

Not necessarily. Many determining elements are at play when dealing with a pregnancy on a personal service contract, including:

  1. The type of temporary contract
  2. Your country's employment law

ℹ️ Your employer cannot terminate a fixed-term contract because of your pregnancy before its end date unless this is specified in your contract.

1. Fixed-Term Contract Types

A short-term contract is an employment arrangement that lasts for a specific period. Agreements typically have a start and finish date specified on the contract.

There are two types of short-term contracts:

  • Rolling Contracts
    • These are automatically renewed at the end of their term unless one of the parties decides to terminate them. Teaching contracts are often rolling contracts.
  • Non-Rolling Contracts
    • These end at a set date. Specified purpose contracts and seasonal jobs are usually regulated by non-rolling contracts.

Non-renewal of a fixed-term contract can equal dismissal. Especially if you are on a rolling contract that has been renewed previously, your employer would have to prove that the employment did not end because of your pregnancy. Otherwise, this would be considered unfair or illegal dismissal.

2. How Does My Country Regulate Fixed-Term Employment and Pregnancy?

Regulations and benefits of pregnant fixed-term contract workers differ from country to country. Click on your country to find out which employment laws apply to your situation.

  • Your rights are equal to any other worker. Your contract cannot be terminated due to pregnancy, but your pregnancy does not entitle you to its renewal.

    Financial aid is available when you need it, as well as unemployment benefits.

  • United Kingdom

    If you are on a fixed-term contract, you will have all the rights of a permanent employee, including maternity rights. Your contract should continue during the 52 weeks of maternity leave until the fixed term expires. If your contract is renewed beyond your period of maternity leave, then you will be entitled to resume your job.

    If you meet the requirements, your employer must pay you Statutory Maternity Pay  (SMP). You will not be eligible for SMP on a fixed-term contract if you are pregnant before you start, but you are entitled to paid time off for ante-natal appointments, and your  job should be safe for a pregnant woman.

    The non-renewal of your fixed-term contract is considered dismissal and may be unlawful if you have worked for your employer for more than two years. If your contract ends and is not renewed, you must consider why. Are you redundant because the project has ended, or could the reason be pregnancy-related?

    If the job still exists and your contract is not renewed because of your pregnancy or maternity leave, the dismissal will be discriminatory and automatically unfair, even if you cannot work for most of the contract, whether because of parental leave or health and safety reasons.

    You have special rights if you are dismissed or made redundant while pregnant or on maternity leave – you must be given written reasons for your dismissal.

    The law also provides special protection to women on parental leave. Your employer must offer you any suitable alternative employment in preference to other employees being made redundant.

    Apply for a redundancy payment if you have been dismissed after working for your employer for more than two years.

    In case of unemployment, you may qualify for Jobseeker's Allowance.


    The rights of fixed-term workers are protected by law. You cannot be treated less favorably than open-ended contract workers.

    You can only be employed on a series of annual contracts for up to four years. If your employer wants to keep you on, they must provide an open-ended contract.

    You would have grounds for unfair dismissal if:

    • your boss does not renew your contract in order to avoid having to hire you with an open-ended contract

    • you suspect you were selected for redundancy because of your pregnancy

    Dismissal at the end of the contract may be considered unfair unless the written contract marks the specific duration or purpose of the contract and is signed by you and your employer. It must also contain a clause that unfair dismissal cannot be claimed because of its expiry.

    You are entitled to full maternity leave. However, if your contract ends before the last day of maternity leave, your maternity leave ends at that point. You are still entitled to 26 weeks of maternity benefit.

    In case of unemployment, you may qualify for Jobseeker's Benefit or Jobseeker's Allowance.

  • Unless your employer renews your contract, it will end at the specified time. If you are employed on a fixed-term contract, pregnancy is not a valid reason to be dismissed early. You are entitled to 17 weeks of unpaid maternity leave if you meet the requirements of your provincial or federal employment standards legislation. The possible starting date of your leave is as early as 17 weeks before your due date.

    You can apply for 15 weeks of maternity benefit. You are entitled to maternity benefit by the government if your normal earnings are reduced by more than 40% due to the birth of your child and you have worked a minimum of at least 600 hours of insurable employment in the 52-week period before the start date of maternity benefit. Find out here when to apply, since this affects the duration of maternity benefit. If you apply too late (e.g., four weeks after your last day of work), you might even lose your claim. You can also apply for parental benefits either for 12 months (standard parental) or for 18 months (extended parental), which can be shared with your partner. Parental benefits usually follow maternity benefits, but they can be applied for at the same time.

    After your maternity leave, you can return to your job unless your temporary contract ends while you are on leave. Your employer is under no obligation to renew your contract unless it is a rolling contract, which is usually renewed after the end of each contract period. Pregnancy is an illegal reason not to renew.

    When facing unemployment, apply for EI regular benefits.

  • In Australia, fixed-term contracts are the exception rather than the norm. Unless your employer renews your contract, it will end at the specified time, whether before or after your child’s birth.

    A fixed-term contract worker employed for over a year has the right to at least 12 months of unpaid maternity leave. Your partner can also take up to 12 months’ unpaid leave. After maternity leave, you may return to your job unless your temporary contract ends while on leave. Your employer is not obligated to renew it. If your contract ends after your maternity leave, you may finish working till the appointed time of your contract.

    If you have worked for your company for less than a year, your contract will end at the appointed time without either party giving notice.

    Before informing your employer of your pregnancy, check your employment contract and your company policy to determine whether you are entitled to Paid Parental Leave from your employer. State regulations may also differ and should be taken into consideration.

    You are entitled to parental leave pay by the government if your annual income is under a certain limit and you have worked a minimum of 330 hours within a ten-month period (out of 13 months) before delivery. On July 1, 2023, Parental Leave Pay will increase from 90 days (18 weeks) to 100 days (20 weeks). If you return to work before the Paid Parental Leave period ends, the payment will end early. You can receive Parental Leave Pay at the same time as Annual Leave, Paid Maternity Leave (from your employer), Parental Leave, and Sick Leave.

    If you are facing unemployment, several support options may be available, such as Parenting Payment, Family Tax Benefits, Child Care Subsidy, and Additional Child Care Subsidy.

  • Employers must specify the reason for giving fixed-term contracts, such as seasonal work. You cannot make an unfair dismissal claim when this contract term ends.

    However, when the employee is re-hired more than once, seasonal employment can become a rolling fixed-term employment. You have probably become a permanent employee if you work regularly and continuously.

    If your boss gave you a temporary contract without lawful reason or if you have worked longer than the contract specifies, you can claim unfair dismissal.

    You can receive parental leave and parental leave payments if you have worked for the same employer a minimum of 10 hours a week for 26 of the 52 weeks before your baby arrives. Depending on the number of weeks you worked, you are entitled to 26 or 52 weeks of leave. Calculate your parental leave by using the Parental Leave eligibility tool. Regardless of the number of weeks parental leave you are entitled to, governmental Parental Pay will end at 26 weeks postpartum.

    Have you worked less than 10 hours per week for 26 of the past 52 weeks? Then take the parental leave payment eligibility test and apply for negotiated carer leave to receive parental leave payments.

    When facing unemployment, apply for Jobseeker support! Also use the “check what you might get” tool.

  • Unless your employer renews your contract, it will end at the specified time. It is illegal for an employer to disguise permanent employment by continually rolling over fixed-term contracts. Rolling over a contract once or twice is acceptable. If your temporary contract has been renewed three or four times, you have the right of expectation and can therefore file for unfair dismissal with CCMA if it is not renewed. Pregnancy is an invalid reason for dismissal.

    You are entitled to four consecutive months of unpaid maternity leave, beginning one month before birth. After maternity leave, you may return to your job unless your temporary contract ends while on leave.

    After birth, you are obligated to take at least six weeks of leave. However, you can return to work earlier if it is medically certified that you are fit to do so.

    If you give birth before your contract expires, you will not continue to be paid by your employer. However, if you have worked more than 24 hours per month, you can apply for maternity benefit (UIF) and receive 17 weeks of pay. You must submit your application at least eight weeks before going on maternity leave.

    If you are a temporary worker and know you are leaving soon, try to work more than 24 hours a month so that you can claim UIF. If you have worked for at least four years, you are entitled to receive unemployment benefit for one year.

For more information go to:

Contract Renewal While Pregnant?

Suppose your contract is up for renewal and your employer does not yet know about your pregnancy. In that case, you can wait until the permanent contract has been signed before announcing your pregnancy.

Informing your superiors afterward may require a bit of diplomacy, but it is legal to do so.

You may choose openness and score points for honesty and reliability. Then you could announce your pregnancy – and ask your employer to extend your contract anyway.

This would signal that your work is important to you and that you would like to return to the company.

Your boss may even be glad to extend your contract during your pregnancy because they are relieved not to lose a seasoned employee. Now they only need to find a temporary replacement.

⚠️ Be aware: Due to the pregnancy, your employer may not offer you a contract extension, allowing your contract to end.

Therefore, it is essential to carefully consider your next steps.

When A Contract Is Not Renewed During Pregnancy or Maternity Leave

If your contract is not renewed during pregnancy, you may be able to claim unfair dismissal. You would need to show that your employment ended even though your employer had communicated his intention to renew your contract. Other helpful aspects in a claim would be a previous contract renewal and evidence that your continued work is needed.

Fortunately, financial benefits are available when your contract ends. Once it becomes clear that your contract will not be renewed, register with your local job center. This will allow you to receive unemployment benefits immediately after your contract is terminated.

Find out which benefits are available to you by going to:

Other Questions or Concerns?

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While profemina aims to provide general legal information pertaining to your situation, we cannot guarantee its accuracy.

Authors & Sources


Kerstin Dörbecker,
MA English

Simon Püschel,
German Scholar

Reviewed for Legal Accuracy

Legal Team

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