maternity discrimination
LLM, LPC & LLB (Hons) Private: Shereen Murphy
Legally reviewed by: LLM, LPC & LLB (Hons) Private: Shereen Murphy
We are not currently offering Employment advice services. The following is for informational purposes only.

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. Therefore, you can make a claim at the employment tribunal if your employer hasn’t respected your rights.

What is Maternity Discrimination?”

You are experiencing maternity discrimination if your employer is treating you unfavourably since you became pregnant.

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.

Common Types of Discrimination Due to Pregnancy and Maternity

Unfortunately, it is not uncommon for there are still many types of discrimination due to pregnancy and maternity.

Some of the most common types of pregnancy and maternity discrimination are:

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

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.

What Does The Equality Act 2010 Say About Maternity Discrimination?

The Equality Act 2010 outlines the law surrounding maternity discrimination.

The Equality Act 2010 classes any of the below examples as maternity discrimination:

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

What are My Maternity Rights?

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 further leave

Examples of Maternity Discrimination

Pregnancy and maternity discrimination include experiencing any of the following:

  • Your employer is suspending you from work for health and safety reasons therefore you are 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 illness related to pregnancy, and your employer will not re-arrange
  • An employer failing to carry out a health and safety risk assessment, leaving you no choice but to resign
  • Your employer is disciplining you for performance issues that an illness related to pregnancy is causing.
  • Employer demoting or dismissing you, or stopping you from having training or promotion opportunities
  • Your employer refusing you time off for antenatal reasons or refusing normal pay when you’re attending antenatal appointments
  • Being made redundant during your maternity leave with no genuine reason
  • Not getting the job when the employer learns that you’re pregnant

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

Breastfeeding Discrimination

There is no legal right that allows time off work for breastfeeding.

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

Can I Claim Maternity Discrimination?

We always recommend trying to solve any issues directly with your employer first. This is because they may not realise what they are doing isn’t legal, and a talk may solve the problem.

However, if it doesn’t solve the issue, make sure you follow the correct grievance procedure written in your company policy.

If the dispute will not resolve even after following the right steps, we can help you make a claim. This 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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