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
In Commissioner of the City of London Police v Geldart, the Employment Appeal Tribunal held that a failure to pay a London allowance to a police officer on maternity leave constituted direct sex discrimination and no comparator was required.
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 (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.
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.
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".
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.
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.
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.
Updated to include a reference to the Government's response to the consultation.
HR and legal information and guidance relating to pregnancy and maternity discrimination.