Pregnancy and Maternity Discrimination 

Pregnancy and maternity are protected characteristics under the Equality Act 2010. This means that it is discrimination to treat you unfavourably because you are pregnant or taking maternity leave. 
Unlike other forms of discrimination, you don’t need to compare your treatment to other employees. You will need to show that the treatment was because of your pregnancy or maternity, and not coincidental. However, it does not need to have been the only reason. 

When am I protected from pregnancy and maternity discrimination? 

Protection from pregnancy and maternity discrimination applies from the start of your pregnancy to the end of your maternity leave (or, if you are not entitled to maternity leave, two weeks after birth). Where you are having IVF treatment and your employer is aware, you are treated as pregnant from the embryo transfer stage until the pregnancy can be confirmed. 
If you have used annual leave to follow on from maternity leave, the protections do not extend into this annual leave. 
Decisions made after you return to work but based on your pregnancy or maternity leave could still be discrimination. For example, if you return to work and are then chosen for redundancy based on performance targets that don’t account for your maternity leave, this would be discriminatory. 
Unfavourable treatment related to motherhood (for example, inflexible working that is incompatible with childcare, or failure to offer breastfeeding facilities) may still be discriminatory. Here the claim would be sex discrimination rather than pregnancy and maternity discrimination. 

Can I be made redundant while I am pregnant or on maternity leave? 

In a genuine redundancy situation, you can be made redundant while pregnant if your employer follows a fair process. However, your employer cannot make you redundant because you are pregnant. If your pregnancy was a factor in deciding to make you redundant, even if it was not the only reason, then your dismissal may be unfair. 
Your employer must also not use selection criteria that discriminate indirectly. If your pregnancy puts you at a disadvantage for some selection criteria, then adjustments must be made to put you on equal footing. For example, if performance targets are considered, they must account for the time you were on maternity leave. This can be more difficult to spot, as the selection criteria themselves may not seem unfair. 
You must be included in consultation even if you are on maternity leave. If there is suitable alternative vacancy then it must be offered to you first, without the need to apply. 
If you have been made redundant while pregnant or on maternity leave, or you feel your pregnancy or maternity was a factor in the redundancy, we can help you to understand whether you have a claim, and what your next steps should be. 

Health and Safety during pregnancy 

All employers have a duty to provide a safe workplace. Once you have told your employer that you are pregnant, they should consider how this affects your health and safety in the workplace. 
Your employer should make adjustments to help remove or reduce the risks, even if this means offering you a different suitable role. However, the changes must not affect your rate of pay or the terms of your employment. 

Returning to work after maternity leave 

You have the right to return to the same job. If your role has been given to another employee while you are on maternity leave, you could have a discrimination claim. You must also not be overlooked for promotions because you are on maternity leave. 

Making a legal claim for pregnancy or maternity discrimination 

It is a good idea to get legal advice to understand whether you have a claim. It is always a big decision making a claim, but especially during pregnancy or with a young baby. You will need to understand the strength of your claim, the time it could take and the potential outcomes, to help decide whether the stress and financial investment is worth it. An Employment Law solicitor can advise whether you about this, so you can make informed decisions. 
Seeking legal advice early can also help you to present a strong argument, which can encourage your employer to consider a settlement to save both parties a lengthy tribunal claim. 
Get in touch for advice about your dispute and support in making a claim. 

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Do you have a legal matter you'd like to discuss with us? Get in touch using the details below or use the form here and a member of our team will be in touch to discuss your enquiry. 
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Address: Spencer Shaw Solicitors Limited 
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Harborne, Birmingham, B17 0DH 
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