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Pregnancy & maternity discrimination

If you feel that you have been discriminated against due to being pregnant or while on maternity leave, our pregnancy discrimination specialists would be happy to discuss your case. We appreciate this can be a sensitive issue and offer a range of funding options to help. In some circumstances, we may be able to offer a ‘no win no fee' arrangement to you, so that you won’t pay any legal costs if your claim is not successful. For advice, call us on 0161 696 6170 and we will be happy to guide you through the process. Alternatively, please complete our online enquiry form and a member of the team will contact you directly.

Under the Equality Act 2010, a woman is protected from unlawful discrimination because of a current pregnancy, or less favourable treatment as a result of that pregnancy or her attempts to assert her rights of maternity within the maternity period of 26 weeks following the birth of her child or children.

All pregnant women are protected from pregnancy and maternity discrimination at work from the moment they become pregnant until they return to work or after 26 weeks. There are also some protections for breastfeeding mothers who are returning to work.

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Pregnancy discrimination at work

Under pregnancy discrimination laws, it is against the law to treat a pregnant woman unfavourably because:

  • She is pregnant
  • Has a pregnancy-related illness
  • Gave birth recently
  • Is breastfeeding

When faced with a pregnant employee, an employer must not demote or dismiss an employee, or deny her training or promotion opportunities because she is pregnant or on maternity leave and must not take into account an employee's period of absence for a pregnancy-related illness when making decisions about her employment. In a wider context, protection against pregnancy discrimination is afforded to women in the course of their day-to-day lives as consumers and service users.

All employers will need to ensure that their HR policies are designed to prevent pregnancy discrimination in the following areas: 

  • Discipline and grievances
  • Determining pay
  • Redundancy selection
  • Training and development
  • Recruitment

Can you be made redundant while pregnant?

It is possible to be made redundant during your maternity leave or while pregnant if pregnancy is not the reason for the redundancy.

To help you understand if you have been treated unfavourably, here are some pregnancy discrimination at work examples:

  • Direct discrimination
  • Indirect discrimination
  • Harassment
  • Victimisation

Direct discrimination typically includes being refused a promotion or being made redundant because you are pregnant, on maternity leave or breastfeeding. It is also illegal for an employer to ask a mother to stop breastfeeding her child.

Indirect discrimination is when a workplace policy or practice works against a person who is pregnant, breastfeeding or on maternity leave. For example, unjustified refusal for flexible hours.

While pregnant, on maternity leave or breastfeeding, you should not be subjected to experiencing a distressing, humiliating or offensive environment. If a colleague or your manager is harassing you or you believe you have been treated unfairly because you have made a complaint about a pregnancy or maternity discrimination case (victimisation), you might be able to make a claim. Call our expert solicitors today on 0161 696 6170.

Maternity leave discrimination cases

Maternity discrimination is also prohibited. The protected period for this is during the 26 weeks after giving birth. Such discrimination can also include the less favourable treatment of a woman within this period because she is breastfeeding.

Pregnancy and maternity discrimination is a different type of claim to sex discrimination and is defined under its own section of the Equality Act 2010 (s.18).

An employer, public body, service provider or association can be held accountable for the conduct of their employees, which gives rise to claims against these businesses or organisations.

If you believe that you have been the victim of pregnancy discrimination in the workplace and would like to speak to a member of our team, call us on 0161 696 6170 or complete our online enquiry form without delay.

Wider pregnancy discrimination

In the wider context, protection against pregnancy discrimination is afforded to women in the course of their day to day lives as consumers and service users.

Maternity discrimination is also prohibited and can take place during the 26 weeks after giving birth. Such discrimination can also include the less favourable treatment of a woman within this period because she is breast feeding.

Pregnancy and maternity discrimination is a separate claim to that of sex discrimination and is defined under it’s own section of the Equality Act (s.18).

An employer, public body, service provider or association can be held accountable for the conduct of their employees which gives rise to claims against these businesses or organisations.

If you believe that you have been the victim of discrimination due to your pregnancy and/or maternity and would like to speak to a member of our team call us on 0161 696 6170 or complete our online enquiry form without delay.

Pregnancy and maternity discrimination FAQs

Can I sue my employer for pregnancy discrimination?

You can take your employer to court if you have been a victim of pregnancy discrimination. Under the Equality Act 2010, you should not be treated unfavourably or unfairly if you are pregnant, recently given birth, on maternity leave or breastfeeding.

If you do have a pregnancy discrimination claim this may be brought in the Employment Tribunal. However, many employers tend to prefer to settle out of court. If you are offered a settlement agreement by your employer then you will be required to seek legal advice before signing the document. If you need legal advice regarding pregnancy or maternity discrimination then contact our employment lawyers today.

What qualifies as pregnancy discrimination?

The Equality Act 2010 prohibits employers and service providers from discriminating against a person because they are pregnant or on maternity leave. If you have been unfairly treated because you are pregnant, breastfeeding or have recently given birth, and you suffer a disadvantage as a result of this, (e.g. are passed over for promotion) the law may say that you have been treated unfavourably.

Most pregnancy and maternity leave discrimination cases fall into four categories:

  • Direct discrimination
  • Indirect discrimination
  • Harassment
  • Victimisation

Under the Equality Act 2010, you are protected from the moment you are pregnant until you return to work or up until 26 weeks after the birth, whichever comes first. If you are breastfeeding your child after the 26 weeks and you experience discrimination due to this, then it will fall under direct sex discrimination rather than pregnancy and maternity discrimination. When it comes to breastfeeding, you don't have to show that you were treated less favourably than the opposite sex, like other discrimination cases require, only that you have been treated worse than if you had not chosen to breastfeed or carry on breastfeeding.

Can an employer fire you when pregnant?

It is possible for an employer to dismiss you or make you redundant while pregnant or on maternity leave as long as the pregnancy is not the reason that you are being made redundant. If you think that you have been treated unfairly or unfavourably due to being pregnant or on maternity leave, contact our solicitors today.

What is maternity discrimination?

Pregnancy and maternity discrimination is when someone who is pregnant or on maternity leave has been treated unfairly due to the fact that they are pregnant, have just given birth or are breastfeeding. This can range from being passed over for promotion, being made redundant, unfair dismissal and being unreasonably refused flexible working requests, amongst others.

If you have been a victim of maternity discrimination, you may be entitled to compensation. Damages in Maternity discrimination cases vary depending on your individual case. Our expert solicitors will be able to help you determine how much compensation you may receive if your case is successful.

Do I have a pregnancy discrimination case?

Whether or not you have a pregnancy discrimination claim to be pursued will depend on the individual circumstances of your case. At Stephensons, we offer a free initial consultation and from this, we will be able to determine whether or not you have a case. Contact our experienced solicitors today.

Our experience

Recently settled pregnancy and maternity discrimination claims

  • We recovered compensation for our client who was unable to return to work due to the refusal of her employer to allow flexible working hours following her request prior to her return from maternity leave.

  • We acted for an employee alleging pregnancy discrimination following an incident at work in which she was hospitalised.
     
  • Our client was dismissed by her employer due to taking absence for pregnancy related medical reasons. We negotiated a favourable settlement within employment tribunal proceedings.
     
  • Our client was awarded compensation after she was subject to pregnancy discrimination by her employer due to child care arrangement issues.  
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4.5 score on Trustpilot Based on count 1384

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