Maternity Discrimination and your Rights
Finding out that you’re pregnant can often be a happy time for you and your family.
What you don’t want or need is your place of work treating you unfairly because you’re having a baby.
What’s more, it is actually illegal for employers to do so.
You don’t have to live with it, as there are several things you can do if you think you’re a victim of maternity discrimination.
Is your employer treating you unfavourably as a result of your pregnancy?
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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 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.
The Equality Act 2010
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?
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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
Examples of Unfavourable Treatment
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?
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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.
Claiming 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.
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