PREGNANCY & MATERNITY DISCRIMINATION

Pregnancy & Maternity Discrimination

Introduction

This document will explain in brief maternity and pregnancy rights. The need for conciliation. The costs of bringing a claim. These rights are contained in the Equalities Act 2010. The ‘Act’.

Women have legal right not to be discriminated against because they are pregnant or on maternity. This is enshrined into UK law. In relation to employment: an employer cannot discriminate against you because of the protected rights. This law will apply to training, recruitment, vocational training and even redundancy.

We are ashamed to say that this is one area of employment law that is really abused; hence this note.

Need a pregnancy or maternity discrimination lawyer who is sympathetic, ring us today on 0203 289 0385 or request a call back

ACAS Conciliation

A mandatory requirement before any proceedings are commenced in the tribunal for a pregnancy and/ or maternity discrimination claim. You have three months less one day to bring a claim against your employer. Time limits are strict. However if you go to early conciliation and your time has not run out. You may be provided with up to an additional month to conciliation. You must bring a claim within time and this includes within a month of receiving a conciliation officer’s certificate where the parties have not agreed.

We can litigate these matters realistically because of the costs litigation should be as a last resort and negotiating an agreement to resolve the dispute is the way forward.

Pregnancy and Maternity Discrimination – What is it?

Almost all women of child bearing age are protected by this piece of legislation. All Employers must not discriminate against a woman who is pregnant or on maternity leave. The protection is in relation to the woman who is pregnant and not a third party. Thus a husband cannot claim in terms of discriminatory treatment he may receive because his wife is pregnant. However the sex discrimination legislation may provide him with some protection.

This law relating to pregnancy is different from sex discrimination; but where the law relating to pregnancy and or maternity will not be applied then sex discrimination may help. For example you cannot complain about harassment on the grounds of your pregnancy. You may be able to rely on harassment because of your sex.

Maternity and pregnancy discrimination are direct discrimination claims under s18 of the Act. A person must not treat a woman unfavourably during the protected period in relation to her pregnancy or any illness suffered by the woman because of her pregnancy.

A person must also not treat a person unfavourably during the protected period because she is on compulsory maternity leave (the first two weeks after birth) or she is exercising or seeking to exercise the right to ordinary or additional maternity leave.

What is the Protected Period?

This commences when at start of the pregnancy and concludes at the end of a woman’s maternity leave. There are occasions when the law may extend this period.

A woman relying on this area of law will have to show the court that her employer new or suspected that she was pregnant; if she is to successfully bring a claim for discrimination during the protected period.

No Need for a Comparator

It is the norm in discriminatory cases that the individual issuing the claim has to point to another individual as a comparator. Due to the unique position of pregnant women; the legislator has removed the need for a comparator.

Victimisation

If you complain because of a pregnancy or maternity discrimination (the protected act(s)) and you are treated unfavourably because of the complaint. Then you are being victimized and this is unlawful under the Act. A protected act would include for example:

1.       Bringing proceedings against the person

2.       Giving evidence against the person

3.       Making allegations against the discriminator, for example raising a grievance.

Employment Tribunal Fees

These are £250.00 for discrimination claims to be issued. £950 for a hearing. If you are in receipt of benefits, you may not need to pay and will have to look at the booklet Ex160A at the Court and Tribunal Fees Website to ascertain what you need to do to get an exemption.

Pregnancy and Maternity – Goods and Services

Once in a while we hear in the news a mother has been thrown out of a restaurant because she was breastfeeding a baby; or the mother has been asked to cover up. Well from the date of birth of the baby until 26 weeks thereafter mothers are legally entitled to breast feed their babies at say a restaurant or on a bus. The bottom line is that mothers must not be discriminated against. It is unlawful to discriminate against mothers in this way and they have the right to commence proceedings. The reality is that mother’s with new babies just do not have good time to waste.

If an organisation puts in a rule to protect you as a pregnant mother; for example a gym may state you cannot use the Spa because there is a fear you may slip. This is a health and safety issue which is valid and will not amount to discrimination.

Maternity Leave & Pay

We have a separate sheet for this and click here if you need to read it.

We are happy to discuss any case. You can call us 0203 289 0385 or simply request a call back.