Pregnancy / Maternity Discrimination at Work Explained

Stephen Pinder
Partner, Employment Law Solicitor

If your employer is discriminating against you because you are pregnant or on maternity leave, this is against the law in England and Wales and you could make a claim against them for discrimination.

You will need to establish whether your employer is discriminating against you and if this is because you are pregnant or on maternity leave. An Employment Law Solicitor can review your case initially to determine if you have a valid discrimination claim against your employer.

For free initial legal advice call our Employment Law Solicitors.

Call us on 08002605010 or request a callback and we will help you.

Pregnancy / Maternity Discrimination and the Law

The Equality Act 2010 states that your employer is not allowed to discriminate against you because you are pregnant or on maternity leave as this is a “Protected Characteristic”. If an employer discriminates against you because of a Protected Characteristic then they are breaking the law.

What are Protected Characteristics?

Protected Characteristics are things that relate to who you are. They are:

  • Pregnancy and maternity
  • Age
  • Disability
  • Gender reassignment
  • Marriage and civil partnership
  • Race
  • Religion or beliefs
  • Sex
  • Sexual orientation

To prove pregnancy or maternity discrimination at work, a woman simply has to show that her unfavourable treatment was because of her pregnancy or because she was on maternity leave.

You should also consider that unfavourable treatment in your workplace may not be aimed directly at you. It could be a company rule or policy that affects you less favourably than others because you are pregnant or on maternity leave.

Examples of Pregnancy / Maternity Discrimination at Work

You are protected from discrimination at work by law when you are pregnant or on maternity leave, this is a protected period. If you’re not entitled to maternity leave at work, you do have a protected period, which is two months after you give birth, which includes stillbirths.

In some circumstances, you may believe that your protected period has ended but you may actually still be entitled to bring a claim, please speak with an Employment Law specialist for specific advice.

The list below is examples of circumstances which could amount to discrimination where the reason for the situation is due to your pregnancy or maternity:

  • Being selected for redundancy
  • Being dismissed
  • Not being promoted or notified of the opportunity to apply for promotion
  • Not being given training opportunities
  • Hours being reduced
  • Pay being reduced
  • No risk assessment carried out
  • Pressure to resign or not come back to work
  • Changing your role whilst you’re on maternity leave so it’s much less favourable for you
  • Not consulting you about redundancy or changes to your role whilst you’re on maternity leave
  • Not offering a suitable alternative role if you are at risk of redundancy
  • Demoting you when you return from maternity leave

You can see that there are a number of things listed here that can be classed as pregnancy or maternity discrimination but you do need to understand if the issues are because you are pregnant or on maternity leave.

Is My Issue at Work Pregnancy/Maternity related Discrimination?

Firstly you’ll need to check why you are being treated unfavourably at work. Is this because you are pregnant or on maternity leave? You’ll also need to understand if your employer is responsible for your unfavourable treatment.

If you aren’t sure please talk to one of our Employment Solicitors for legal advice.

If you think you’ve been treated unfairly at work because you are pregnant or on maternity leave, you can do something about it. Talk to our experienced Employment Solicitors now for an initial discussion about your circumstances.

For an initial Consultation call our Employment Solicitors

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