updated 16 Jul 2012, 09:57
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Fri, Nov 13, 2009
The Sunday Times
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Bosses told her to take a break - which she did not need
by Radha Basu

When customer service officer Joanne Ho, 33, discovered she was pregnant shortly after joining a well-known tourism-services firm last year, she told her bosses right away.

'I saw no reason to hide the news. I had a new job that I liked and was doing well,' she said, declining to reveal her salary.

But four months into her job, she was not confirmed.

When she asked about it, her bosses suggested she take a break - which she did not need.

But they persisted, putting pressure on her to resign, she said.

'I told them I would not resign because I had done my job well, but they could fire me if they were insistent.'

Her bosses took their time giving her a letter of termination, saying it could affect her career.

When she called the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) to check if she could complain, she was told that a termination letter was necessary.

After hounding the company for nearly a month after leaving work, the letter finally arrived, barely a day before the deadline to complain to MOM expired.

Pregnant women who feel they have been unfairly dismissed should file their complaints with the ministry within one month of their notification of dismissal for the ministry to take up their case.

During investigations by MOM, the company said that Ms Ho was not good at her job and did not improve despite being told verbally that her probation was being extended.

They repeated that when contacted by The Sunday Times.

But MOM found that the company failed to substantiate its claim that Ms Ho's performance was unsatisfactory and ordered it to pay her four months' salary as compensation.

The case dragged for nearly a year, partly because the company postponed appointments.

Now the mother of a one-year-old son, she insisted that there were no performance issues whatsoever.

She had e-mail from former clients praising her work, which she submitted to MOM.

She added that her immediate supervisor was also happy with her work.

'What I faced was bullying and sheer injustice,' said the housewife, who hopes to re-enter the workforce next year.

'And I fought not because I could get some money, but because I had done nothing wrong.'

This article was first published in The Sunday Times.

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