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Pregnancy and maternity discrimination

Fiona Cuming

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

New and updated

  • Settlement discussions admissible in pregnancy and maternity discrimination case

    Date:
    15 October 2019
    Type:
    Law reports

    In Stolk v Hunts Foodservice Ltd and another, an employment tribunal awarded the claimant £11,028 after finding that pre-termination negotiations were admissible as evidence of pregnancy and maternity discrimination.

  • One in eight reluctant to hire women who may become pregnant

    Date:
    22 August 2019
    Type:
    News

    One in eight (12%) employers would be reluctant to hire a woman who could become pregnant and one in seven (14%) takes this, and whether she has children, into account when awarding promotions, a survey has found.

  • Date:
    26 July 2019
    Type:
    Legal guidance

    July 2019 saw progress made on an unusual number of proposed employment law changes. The Government published consultations covering workplace sexual harassment, statutory sick pay, family-friendly leave and pay, flexibility in working hours, modern slavery statements, and enforcement of worker rights. It also made announcements on changes to the laws on rehabilitation periods for offenders, settlement agreements, and protection against redundancy during pregnancy and maternity leave.

  • Pregnancy and maternity discrimination

    Type:
    Employment law manual

    Updated to include information on Forbes v LHR Airport Ltd, in which the EAT considered if posting an offensive image on Facebook was done "in the course of employment".

  • MP seeks to rescue new mums' redundancy protection plans

    Date:
    23 May 2019
    Type:
    News

    The government has been accused of dragging its feet over new legal protections for pregnant women and new mothers at work, as a private member's bill is introduced in the House of Commons today.

  • Employers should publish new mum retention rates, MPs urge

    Date:
    2 May 2019
    Type:
    News

    Large organisations should be forced to publish retention rates for new mothers returning to the workplace in order to tackle the "shocking" levels of discrimination they face, a group of MPs have urged.

  • Maternity leave: Redundancy form sent to employee's inaccessible work email address

    Date:
    13 March 2019
    Type:
    Law reports

    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.

  • New mums to receive six months more redundancy protection

    Date:
    25 January 2019
    Type:
    News

    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.

  • Consultation on extending redundancy protection for pregnant women and new parents

    Type:
    Consultations

    Updated to include a reference to the Government's response to the consultation.

  • Date:
    11 January 2019
    Type:
    Legal guidance

    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?