Cyprus Mail

Ombudswoman backs female teachers over gender discrimination claim

free student texting during class image, public domain cc0 photo.

Pay for teachers who filed for gender discrimination against them for taking maternity leave should be reassessed, Ombudswoman Maria Stylianou-Lottidou recommended on Monday.

The ministry of education should retroactively calculate their pay, the ombudswoman found after examining two complaints directed against the ministry involving contracts to teach in the ministry’s afternoon and evening training programmes.

The complainants argue that as it stands, dozens of women working in the evening have been deprived of their right to maternity leave.

Essentially, the complaint involves a scoring system whereby teachers who have teaching experience of five months plus a day receive a higher rate than those with less clocked experience.

The complainants argue that female teachers who took their four-month maternity leave within the nine-month school year therefore fall just shy of this limit – even by a single day -and automatically fall into a lower pay bracket.

It is argued that the change in scoring method, which took effect during the 2021-22 school year, though appearing gender neutral, in fact disproportionately affects women who have exercised their right to maternity leave, and deters others from taking maternity leave or falling pregnant.

The ombudswoman said that this amounts to indirect discrimination based on gender, since no man can for the same reason (maternity leave) automatically fall into a lower-paid bracket and female teachers are thereby put at a disadvantage compared to their male counterparts.

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