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Second mom comes forward with concerns after maternity leave layoff

CALGARY – A second new Calgary mom from Amec Foster Wheeler has come forward, telling Global News she was laid off just weeks before she was due back on the job.

Brittney Rempel worked as an electrical drafter for the company, which also laid off Stephanie Zanin, an administrative assistant who was due back to work March 9.

READ MORE: Mom’s job cut after maternity leave; what are your rights?

Rempel said she’s since gone back to school to enhance her skills, and has been applying to jobs ever since—with no luck finding a new position. She feels current legislation isn’t adequate to protect people who take parental leave, and says the money she got from the company isn’t enough to cover her expenses.

“I feel like there needs to be change in legislation to protect women from this happening,” said Rempel. “Obviously my two weeks pay is not going to feed my family while I am finding myself something else to do.”

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Rempel said her boss told her he tried to find her an alternate position, but didn’t have any success.

The Employment Standards Code suggests a company can terminate someone on maternity leave if there have been widespread layoffs or the elimination of a particular division at the company, but some experts say ethics should be taken into consideration.

“Are they treating employees justly?” asked Haskayne School of Business ethics professor Jaana Woiceshyn. “It behooves them to handle it in a different matter if they have to lay someone off. Can they wait until the person is back?”

It’s a tricky situation for companies facing tough economic times, but Rempel thinks the province should tighten any loopholes in the legislation in order to promote parenthood and professional success.

“I would encourage the government to consider what this means for women in Canada. We have valuable skills: Do you want us back?”

Amec Foster said it doesn’t comment on specific personnel issues as a matter of policy.

“Generally speaking, in the event a position is terminated, Amec Foster Wheeler exhausts all avenues within the company to secure another comparable position for the employee,” wrote a spokesperson in an email to Global News.

With files from Erika Tucker

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