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 an employee has high absence levels due to pregnancy-related sickness, it would be unlawful for your organisation to take action under its absence policy as a result of this. There is no need for the employee to compare her treatment with 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 for employees returning from maternity leave and these would be considered under the provisions relating to indirect sex discrimination.
Fiona Cuming, employment law editor
Updated to include information on South West Yorkshire Partnership NHS Foundation Trust v Jackson and others, in which the EAT considered if administrative failures in a redundancy process during maternity leave amounted to discrimination.
In South West Yorkshire Partnership NHS Foundation Trust v Jackson and others, the Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT) held that, as long as the miscommunication came from an administrative error, an employee whose redundancy redeployment form was sent to an inaccessible work email address was not unfavourably treated because she was on maternity leave.
Pregnant women and new mothers returning to work after having children are to receive greater protection from being treated unfairly, under new proposals set out by the government.
The Government consults on proposals to extend the period of protection against redundancy for pregnant women and new parents on return to work.
As always, HR professionals had their fair share of employment law cases to keep track of in 2018, but what were the 10 most important judgments in 2018 that every employer should know about?
The law on discrimination in recruitment and selection, including the impact of the Equality Act 2010 on recruitment, direct discrimination, indirect discrimination, the duty to make reasonable adjustments, positive action, occupational requirements, monitoring and keeping records.
In Really Easy Car Credit Ltd v Thompson, the Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT) allowed the appeal and held that the employer was not obliged to revisit its decision to dismiss when it became aware that the employee was pregnant.
In Guisado v Bankia SA and others, the European Court of Justice (ECJ) held that there is nothing in EU law to prevent a pregnant worker from being included in collective redundancies.
In this Spanish case, the Advocate General has suggested that a collective redundancy does not always qualify as an "exceptional case" permitting the dismissal of a pregnant worker.
Kirsti Laird is senior associate at Charles Russell Speechlys. She rounds up the latest rulings.
HR and legal information and guidance relating to pregnancy and maternity discrimination.