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Pregnancy and maternity discrimination


Pregnancy and maternity is a protected characteristic under s.4 of the Equality Act 2010.

The pregnancy and maternity discrimination provisions of the Equality Act replace, and broadly replicate, the provisions contained in the repealed Sex Discrimination Act 1975. While the key difference is that pregnancy and maternity is a protected characteristic in its own right under the Equality Act, the underlying principles are the same with most of the pregnancy and maternity case law made under the Sex Discrimination Act remaining relevant.

The Equality Act makes pregnancy and maternity discrimination unlawful in employment; education; housing; the provision of services, the exercise of public functions and membership of associations. This section covers pregnancy and maternity discrimination under the employment-related discrimination provisions in s.18 of the Act.

The definition of "employee" is broad and, unlike unfair dismissal law, includes workers and agency workers.

Employees are protected against pregnancy and maternity discrimination and victimisation.

There is no provision in the Equality Act 2010 for indirect discrimination or harassment in relation to the protected characteristic of pregnancy and maternity, but cases may be brought as indirect sex discrimination or harassment related to sex claims.