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DW fires journalist Margarita Zakharchuk during her maternity leave

25.07.2023, 13:19

The German Deutsche Welle fired journalist Margarita Zakharchuk during her maternity leave. She reported this to IMI.

According to her, she received the dismissal notice on April 1, a month before going into labour. The letter arrived not to her corporate inbox, but to the private one, because her corporate account was blocked immediately. The stated reason for dismissal was the expiration of her employment contract.

"I couldn't even talk to my colleagues. All contacts and all mail, all the correspondence stayed there. I received it in my private inbox. It was the head of their Europe and Asia desk. A German manager. She is new and she wrote to me. The letter included an attachment – a dismissal order. It was signed by the DW Country Manager in Ukraine," the journalist said.

Margarita noted that in the letter, the company claimed that they continued to fully comply with their obligations as an employer.

"They replied that they remained the financial agent between me and the Social Insurance Fund. And the Social Insurance Fund was paying me sick leave for the period of this maternity leave. If there is a need for a C-section, the sick leave is supposed to be extended for two weeks. That means they would act as an intermediary between the fund and me once again," the journalist said.

Margarita Zakharchuk noted that the notice of dismissal came as a surprise to her, because a month before that she had discussed options for further cooperation with the management. She was also sure that Ukrainian legislation did not give the employer a right to dismiss her.

"I was told that I would not work full-time, but at 60%. It suited me. We agreed that at the end of the year, six months after the child is born, I would go back to work. I took leave due to labour and child care. It was supposed to last 76 days. After that, I was going to write a statement on child care. Which would enable me to take leave for up to three years. But we discussed that if I and the child are fine, I could be back on the team somewhere around the end of the year or the beginning of the next one," said Margarita.

According to Margarita Zakharchuk, after receiving the letter on April 1, she has talked to a lawyer. The lawyer said that there is such a practice: if a fixed-term contract expires, the employer has three months afterwards to find new employment for the person.

The lawyer suggested that the journalist wait three months and send a pre-trial warning to the publication. And if they do not find employment for me by this time, I should bring the matter to court.

"It was a great relief for me, because I had completely different things to think about, I needed to stay calm. We wrote a pre-trial warning with a demand they fulfill their duties. They fulfilled them in part," the journalist noted.

Margarita Zakharchuk noted that she was paid a three-month compensation, but received no employment.

"Regarding the employment, they wrote that they did not have any offers for me, and suggested that they would pass my data to the local employment service center so that they would search for a job for me," said the journalist.

Also, Margarita added that she used to be a freelancer in previous years, but had worked under an employment contract since the beginning of 2022.

The journalist noted that she would sue her employer.

IMI has reached out to DW's communications department in Germany for comment and is waiting for a response.

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