Pregnancy discrimination at work might not be something you think would ever happen – but sadly, it does.
The Pregnancy Discrimination Act UK is part of the Equality Act 2010 and means that anyone who is pregnant is protected from discrimination because of their pregnancy.
Knowing what to do when you’re discriminated against because you’re pregnant isn’t always easy, though, which is why we’re here to help.
What Is Pregnancy Discrimination?
Pregnancy discrimination occurs when you’re treated differently or unfairly (whether directly or indirectly) because you are pregnant.
Elements of other forms of discrimination might fall under the same banner as pregnancy discrimination, including maternity discrimination which is often paired with pregnancy discrimination and affords the same protections.
Pregnancy discrimination at work examples include if you were pregnant and applying for a promotion but your employer elects not to promote you despite you being the most qualified and best-suited candidate because they don’t want to pay you the increased rate of pay for your maternity leave.
It might also be that your role is changed when you inform your employer that you’re pregnant, and you are treated differently such as being given fewer shifts or not being allowed reasonable time off for certain essential appointments where requests have been reasonably made in good time.
What Is Unfavourable Treatment?
Unfavourable treatment is a term often used to describe discrimination and it encompasses many things.
Any situation where you’re treated differently or unfairly because of a protected characteristic, such as being pregnant, can be classed as unfavourable treatment.
The Equality Act protects you against discrimination and states that you mustn’t be discriminated against during the protected period because of your pregnancy, any illness suffered as a result of your pregnancy, and then because you are on compulsory maternity leave.
You also have the right to seek ordinary or additional maternity leave and if you’re treated unfairly because of this, it can be construed as discrimination.
When Am I Protected?
We are focusing on pregnancy discrimination in the workplace but that doesn’t mean that you aren’t protected outside of work, too.
In fact, the Equality Act specifically states that you:
- Must not be discriminated against by being treated unfavourably because of pregnancy
- Must not be discriminated against by being treated unfavourably because you have given birth in the previous 26 weeks
And when it comes to discrimination in the workplace, there is more than one type.
Victimisation occurs when you’ve been treated badly because you’ve made a complaint about pregnancy-related discrimination or even if you’ve supported someone who has made a complaint.
Now, while there aren’t any specific laws in the Equality Act 2010 that lay out what indirect discrimination and harassment mean when it comes to pregnancy and maternity, that doesn’t mean you can’t claim discrimination.
It might simply be that you claim sex discrimination in this case because the reality is that many indirect sex discrimination cases are in relation to employers treating women differently when returning from maternity leave or in relation to pregnancy arrangements.
Do I Have To Tell My Employer I Am Pregnant?
Yes, you do need to inform your employer that they’re pregnant so that they can make plans for your maternity leave and make allowances for appointments and scans.
Legally you don’t need to tell your employer that you’re pregnant until the end of the 15th week before your due date, which will be when you’re 25 weeks pregnant.
But many women often choose to inform their employer before this as it’s common to have physical symptoms including sickness and your employer is likely to make allowances and be understanding if they know your situation.
What If I Am Dismissed Because Of Pregnancy?
Short answer – speak to a legal expert!
You should NOT be dismissed because you’re pregnant and if that’s the main reason you have been dismissed, you’re likely to be able to lodge an unfair dismissal claim.
Pregnancy Discrimination Solicitors Near Me
If you need any help, advice, or assistance with employment issues relating to your pregnancy, maternity leave, and any potential unfair treatment, we’re here to help.
At Solicitors Near Me, we connect you with expert employment solicitors near to where you live for FREE.
Yep, there’s no obligation to proceed with them when we connect, so whatever you decide to do, there’s no need to commit until you’re ready.