Employment law

Maternity discrimination at work

The Equality Act 2010 states that you cannot be discriminated against because of pregnancy or maternity. If you believe that you've been treated unfairly in the workplace due to planning to start a family, becoming pregnant, having a baby, taking maternity leave, because of any pregnancy related illness or if you have had a miscarriage, talk to one of our friendly employment law solicitors today.

Young mother holding her new born baby

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What is maternity discrimination?

The Equality Act 2010 makes it unlawful for any employer to discriminate against an employee because they become pregnant, or when they wish to return to work as a mother. Unfortunately, women are frequently treated unfairly by employers due to pregnancy and maternity issues.

We've represented a great many women who've been sidelined at work after telling their employer they're pregnant, and in some cases have been selected for redundancy after becoming pregnant, or have returned to work to find they've been placed in an inferior role.

If you've been treated unfairly by an employer because of your pregnancy or maternity, our sympathetic and experienced employment solicitors are here to talk to you and advise you of your rights. Call us on 0330 041 5869 or contact us and we'll call you.

What are my rights when I become pregnant?

It's your responsibility to tell your employer that you're pregnant at least 15 weeks before your baby is due. This helps them to plan around your absence and arrange maternity cover where necessary.

Once you've done this, you're fully protected by the Equality Act 2010, which states that you must not be discriminated against in any way due to pregnancy or maternity. In the first instance, your employer should carry out a Health & Safety risk assessment, particularly if your job involves anything that might harm your health or the health of your baby. They should also be aware that you have a right not to be:

  • Treated detrimentally to other employees in terms of things like promotion or training opportunities
  • Made redundant or dismissed because of your pregnancy or maternity leave

None of this means that you absolutely cannot lose your job while pregnant. If, for example, you worked in a team of 10 people and all of you were made redundant while only you were pregnant, that might not be regarded as discriminatory. However, if you were the only one to be made redundant, you might well have a case for discrimination. In this scenario, if there was an alternative role available, your employer may have to show preference to you above your colleagues.

All employees are entitled to reasonable paid time off for antenatal appointments while pregnant.

In addition to these rights, if you've been with the same employer for at least 26 weeks before notifying your employer of your pregnancy, and earn at least £102 a week on average, you're entitled to statutory paid maternity leave of 26 weeks and up to 26 weeks of additional maternity leave.

You also have a right to expect that your job will be waiting for you when you return from maternity leave, and that your employer will at least consider the option of offering you flexible working to help you with childcare arrangements once you return to work.

If you believe you've been unfairly discriminated against in the workplace on account of pregnancy or maternity, speak to one of our experienced solicitors about seeking redress today. Call us on 0330 041 5869 or contact us and we'll call you.

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