Recent research by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, and the Equality and Human Rights Commission, (Pregnancy and maternity-related discrimination and disadvantage: experience of mothers, November 2016), has stated that one in nine mothers were either dismissed or otherwise felt forced to leave their job roles due to their pregnancy and/or maternity.
The outcome of the report suggests that as many as 54,000 mothers per year are discriminated against by their employers.
However, quite surprisingly, it is reported that in the year April 2015 to March 2016, only 1,297 dismissal claims brought in the tribunals were brought on the grounds of maternity. (Tribunals and gender recognition certificate statistics quarterly: July to September 2016, Ministry of Justice, 8 December 2016). These statistics suggest that despite the potentially high volume of pregnancy / maternity discrimination occurring, less than 2.5 per cent of such cases are actually making it to tribunal.
Section 18 of the Equality Act 2010, prohibits a woman from being discriminated against by an employer as a result of:
- Her pregnancy
- Illness suffered by her as a result of pregnancy
- Her being on compulsory maternity leave
- Her exercising her right to ordinary or additional maternity leave
What should you do if you have been discriminated against?
If you feel that you have been discriminated against; you should take immediate action.
Firstly, you should raise a grievance with your employer. You may also be able to bring a claim in the employment tribunal for unlawful discrimination under the provisions of the Equality Act 2010, and so you should seek legal advice in respect of this.
Please be aware that strict time limits apply, and you only have three months less one day of the discriminatory act to bring a claim for discrimination in the employment tribunal. It is therefore imperative that there is no delay in action being taken in pursuing claims for unlawful discrimination in the workplace.
If you need further advice regarding discrimination law, please contact our team on 0175 321 6399.