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Pregnancy and maternity discrimination

Updating author: Tina McKevitt


  • Pregnancy and maternity is a protected characteristic under the Equality Act 2010. (See Definition of pregnancy and maternity)
  • The Equality and Human Rights Commission published guidance for employers on managing pregnancy and maternity issues during the coronavirus outbreak. (See Pregnancy and maternity during coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak)
  • As well as being liable for its own actions, there are circumstances in which an employer will be liable for the acts of others. (See Who is liable?)
  • The Equality Act 2010 prohibits direct discrimination and victimisation. (See Prohibited conduct)
  • Direct discrimination is unfavourable treatment related to the protected characteristic of pregnancy and maternity. (See Direct discrimination)
  • Under the Protection from Harassment Act 1997, an employer may be vicariously liable for a course of conduct by one of its employees that amounts to harassment under the Act. (See Protection from Harassment Act 1997)
  • Victimisation occurs when a person is subjected to a detriment because they did a protected act. (See Victimisation)
  • Exceptions from unlawful discrimination exist in relation to non-contractual payments to employees on maternity leave and in relation to various other matters including acts done for the purpose of safeguarding national security and insurance contracts. (See Exceptions)