What is Maternity Discrimination in the Workplace?

Anita North
National Head of Employment

Maternity or pregnancy discrimination happens when an employer treats you unfavourably because of your pregnancy, recent childbirth, breastfeeding or a medical condition relating to your pregnancy or childbirth.

It’s sometimes difficult to know if you’re being treated less favourably because you’re pregnant or on maternity leave. But it is against the law so you should get legal advice from a specialist Employment Law Solicitor if you feel you are being discriminated against in this way.

We offer a free initial discussion so you can find out where you stand as soon as possible. We can tell you if you have the grounds to take legal action and advise you on your funding options.

Call us on 0808 258 3531 or request a callback

What Are My Rights As a Pregnant Woman in the Workplace?

When you’re pregnant or on maternity leave, there is a ‘protected period’ which starts at the beginning of your pregnancy until your maternity leave ends. The protected period means you can’t be discriminated against in this time.

You can still make a claim after the protected period about something that happened during that time, or if it happened after your maternity leave but relates to your birth or child. For example, if your manager is treating you less favourably because you’re breastfeeding or have a birth related medical condition, that might be sex discrimination if it is outside of the protected period.

Examples of Pregnancy Discrimination

Pregnancy or maternity discrimination at work can happen during the recruitment process, for example if someone refuses to hire you because you’re pregnant or about to go on maternity leave, or while you’re employed, for instance if you’re demoted because of your upcoming maternity leave.

You can be discriminated against in different ways, such as:

    1. Unfavourable Treatment – This is if you are treated unfairly, face any unwanted behaviour, or suffer any disadvantage because of your pregnancy or maternity leave.
    2. Victimisation – This can happen if you’ve made a claim against your employer due to unfavourable treatment and are now suffering a detriment for it, whether you have raised an allegation against your employer, raised a grievance, supported someone else’s allegation or made a claim to an Employment Tribunal.

How Do I Prove Maternity Discrimination?

If you’ve spoken to your employer and gone through the grievance process and you’re still not happy with the outcome, you can bring a claim to an Employment Tribunal.

Proving your discrimination might be difficult. You won’t always have to provide written evidence but you do need to be able to show how you were treated unfavourably.

If you’re not sure if you have a claim, or how to prove you’ve been discriminated against, our Employment Law Solicitors are happy to help.

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