Maternity Discrimination – What You Can Do About It

maternity discrimination
LLM, LPC & LLB (Hons) Shereen Murphy
Written by: Charlotte Bradford-Gibbs Legally reviewed by: LLM, LPC & LLB (Hons) Shereen Murphy Updated: In: Employment

Pregnancy and Maternity Discrimination – Your Rights

If you find yourself the victim of pregnancy or maternity discrimination at your place of work there are steps you can take.

Under the Equality Act 2010 it is unlawful to discriminate on the basis of pregnancy and maternity, so you can make a claim at the employment tribunal if your employer hasn’t respected your rights.

Is your employer treating you unfavourably as a result of your pregnancy?

Pregnancy and Maternity Discrimination

What is Maternity Discrimination?

If you suffer a disadvantage at work because your employer treats you unfairly following you falling pregnant, you are experiencing maternity discrimination.

Examples of this type of workplace discrimination include cut hours, a refused promotion or even dismissal.

Employers should acknowledge a woman’s pregnancy, but they should not treat her unfavourably as a result of pregnancy.

Common Types of Discrimination due to Pregnancy and Maternity

Unfortunately there are still many common types of discrimination due to pregnancy and maternity.

The most common types of discrimination due to pregnancy and maternity women suffer from are:

  • Being penalised for taking more time of than usual during pregnancy due to medical appointments or pregnancy related illness
  • Being made redundant because, or partly because she is pregnant and/or on maternity leave
  • Not being hired because of being pregnant or  because of the assumption that you may be soon
  • Not being paid the full entitlement during maternity leave
  • Not being given a fair chance in regard to promotion opportunities
  • Receiving harassing comments and treatment from others because she is pregnant

If you are suffering from this any of these common types of pregnancy and maternity discrimination you can take action. We are here to help, so get in touch and find out what next steps you will benefit from taking.

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What Does The Equality Act 2010 Say About Maternity Discrimination?

The Equality Act 2010 outlines the law surrounding maternity discrimination.

Any of the below is classed as maternity discrimination:

  • A pregnant woman is treated unfavourably because of her pregnancy, or illness she suffers as a result of the pregnancy
  • She is treated unfavourably for being on compulsory maternity leave
  • She is treated unfavourably for exercising the right to ordinary or additional maternity leave

A ‘protected period’ exists around pregnancy, in which maternity discrimination can occur.

This period begins when the pregnancy does, and ends either:

  • At the end of the woman’s maternity leave, or if earlier, when she returns to work after the pregnancy, or
  • If the woman has no right to maternity leave, at the end of a two week period which follows the end date of her pregnancy

Did your employer breach the Equality Act? Our employment law solicitors can help you. 

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What Maternity Rights Am I Entitled To?

As well as the right to maternity leave, most pregnant employees have other maternity rights.

These include the right to:

  • Take time off work for antenatal care and appointments which you should receive normal pay for
  • Statutory maternity pay or maternity allowance
  • Pregnancy-specific health and safety protection
  • Have contractual pay and conditions maintained during maternity leave
  • Return to your job after ordinary maternity leave, or a similar job after additional maternity leave

What Are Examples of Maternity Discrimination

Pregnancy and maternity discrimination include experiencing any of the following:

  • Being suspended from work for health and safety reasons and not receiving full pay
  • Being dismissed and the reason being cited as them being unable to afford to pay you statutory maternity pay
  • Not being able to attend a disciplinary meeting because of a pregnancy-related illness, and your employer refusing to re-arrange
  • Employer failing to carry out a health and safety risk assessment, leaving you no choice but to resign
  • Being disciplined for performance issues caused by a pregnancy-related illness
  • Employer demoting or dismissing you, or stopping you from having training or promotion opportunities
  • Being refused time off for antenatal reasons, or refused normal pay when you attend antenatal appointments
  • Being made redundant during your maternity leave with no genuine reason
  • Getting rejected for a job when the employer learns that you’re pregnant

Does one of the above examples sound familiar? Our employment law solicitors can advice you on what to do next. 

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It is not a legal right to be allowed time off work for breastfeeding.

However, your employer should do their best to accommodate you if you want to express milk at work.

Can I Claim for Maternity Discrimination?

We always recommend trying to solve any disagreements directly with your employer first.

They may not realise what they are doing isn’t legal, and an informal chat may solve the problem.

If it doesn’t, make sure you follow the correct grievance procedure outlined in your company policy.

If you’ve followed the right protocol and the issue is still not resolved, we can help you.

You can claim for maternity discrimination, which will likely put any financial worries you may have to rest.

We understand that when preparing for a baby the last thing you want is stress from work, which is why we’re here to help if things go wrong.

Get in touch today using our contact form, or call on 0800 999 2220.

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