If you’re pregnant and feel as though you’re being mistreated in the workplace, you could be facing pregnancy discrimination. Discrimination because of pregnancy is unlawful, and you should seek professional advice to find out more about your options.

The same goes for maternity discrimination. It’s also illegal to mistreat someone if they’re on maternity leave, breastfeeding or if they’ve recently given birth, as stated in the Equality Act 2010.

If you feel as though you’re a victim of pregnancy discrimination or maternity discrimination, call us free on 0808 164 0808.

What is pregnancy discrimination in the workplace?

This is when a person is treated unfairly because they are pregnant. This can include being bullied, harassed, not given the same treatment as non-pregnant employees, and not being provided with adequate working space. This also includes being discriminated against because of a pregnancy-related illness.

From day one of your employment you are protected by pregnancy and maternity discrimination law, whether you’re a full-time employee, an agency worker or a freelancer. If you were to become pregnant, you’d enter a protected period. This ends when your maternity leave finishes.

What is maternity discrimination?

Maternity discrimination can be classed under pregnancy discrimination. This is when a person is treated unfairly during maternity leave, has been on maternity leave, or has tried to exercise the right to take maternity leave and as a result faced negative consequences.

An employee on maternity leave is protected by pregnancy and maternity discrimination law until the end of the leave. Any unlawful discrimination suffered after that would still be classed as illegal, but this would be sex discrimination.

Examples of pregnancy and maternity discrimination in the workplace

See below for some common examples of pregnancy discrimination at work:

  • Refusing to promote an employee because they are pregnant
  • Dismissing an employee due to pregnancy
  • Refusing to provide workplace adjustments and accommodation
  • Bullying or harassing an employee for being pregnant
  • Forcing an employee to take unwanted leave, or making changes to their role due to pregnancy
  • Mistreating an employee for raising a complaint about pregnancy discrimination
  • Making a person’s role redundant while they are on maternity leave without there being a genuine redundancy situation
  • Changing a person’s role, and expecting them to re-apply for it when they return from maternity leave (this may also include an employer suggesting to the person that they don’t apply)
  • Cutting someone’s hourly rate or yearly salary while they are on maternity leave
  • Refusing employment benefits, such as childcare vouchers or profit share bonus to somebody on maternity leave
  • Bullying/harassment

It is the responsibility of an employer to provide a suitable working environment for pregnant employees. This could mean bringing in adjustable desks, different chairs, providing seating if the job requires employees to stand, and also being flexible with schedules. A pregnant employee might suffer from morning sickness, so may ask for a later working schedule.

You could also face maternity leave promotion discrimination. If you were working towards a promotion before going on maternity leave, and on returning to work your boss decides to drop your development, or if you returned to work, went for a promotion and were denied it with no just reason, this would be seen as discrimination.

What to do if you’re facing pregnancy discrimination

If you feel victimised because you’re pregnant, or because you’re on maternity leave or have returned to work, it’s important to take the right steps.

In the first instance, you may wish to try resolving the issue informally with your employer. However, if this doesn’t go well, you could always file a grievance by following the correct procedures. If this still doesn’t help to solve the issue, please call one of our employment solicitors for guidance. In order to ultimately bring a claim, you would need to go to ACAS with your issue, as they’ll get in touch with your employer and try to achieve an “early conciliation”. If this is unsuccessful, our team of employment solicitors may be able to help.

Note: you MUST act quickly in this situation. You have three months less one day to bring your claim to tribunal, and going through ACAS can take up at least a third of this time.

If you need further advice and guidance regarding pregnancy and maternity discrimination at this time, call us now on 0808 164 0808 or request a call back.