Editor's message: Pregnancy and maternity discrimination differs from other forms of direct discrimination because it does not require the complainant to show that she has been treated less favourably than someone else. Instead, she must show that she has been treated unfavourably because of her pregnancy or maternity leave. For example, if you have an employee who has high absence levels due to pregnancy-related sickness, it would be unlawful for you to take action under your absence policy as a result of this. There is no need for the employee to compare her treatment to that of someone who is not pregnant.
There is no provision under the Equality Act 2010 for indirect discrimination in relation to the protected characteristic of pregnancy and maternity. Many cases are connected with the refusal of part-time or job-share work to employees returning from maternity leave and these would be considered under the provisions relating to indirect sex discrimination.
Susie Munro, senior employment law editor
Updated to include information on Peninsula Business Service Ltd v Baker, in which the EAT considered the employer's liability for victimisation by an agent surveillance company it had appointed.
Updated to include the increase in statutory maternity pay in force from 2 April 2017.
The Government has pledged to ensure that pregnant women and new mothers are sufficiently protected from redundancy.
What were the most significant employment case law decisions in 2016? Stephen Simpson counts down the 10 most important judgments for employers this year.
The Women and Equalities Committee has called for "urgent action" to stop discrimination against new and expectant mothers at work.
In Peninsula Business Services Ltd v Donaldson EAT/0249/15, the EAT held that childcare vouchers under a salary-sacrifice scheme constitute "remuneration", with the result that there is no legal obligation to continue their provision during maternity leave.
As many as 390,000 female workers a year have a "negative or possibly discriminatory" experience during pregnancy and maternity leave, or on their return.
The Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT) has held that it is not discriminatory for an employer that offers childcare vouchers in return for a deduction from pay to cease to offer the vouchers during maternity leave.
On this week's XpertHR Weekly, we discuss the key findings of the survey by the Government and Equality and Human Rights Commission into pregnancy and maternity discrimination and provide practical guidance for employers.
In Lyons v DWP Jobcentre Plus EAT/0348/13, the EAT upheld an employment tribunal's decision that an employee who was treated unfavourably and dismissed by reason of absence for post-natal depression after the end of her maternity leave was not discriminated against under s.18 or s.13 of the Equality Act 2010.
HR and legal information and guidance relating to pregnancy and maternity discrimination.