pregnancy discrimination at work

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pregnancy discrimination in the workplace

Pregnancy discrimination at work is still common in this day and age as employers over step the boundaries. Once an employer is aware that an employee is pregnant, they are under an obligation to protect that employee’s health and safety and must not discriminate against her on the grounds of pregnancy in the workplace. Pregnancy discrimination at work is unlawful and an employee may need to bring a claim in the Employment Tribunal to protect her position. Other solutions are available such as negotiating a settlement or asking a lawyer to intervene to protect your position. We aim to seek swift resolution in cases of pregnancy discrimination in the workplace.

Pregnancy employment discrimination includes any form of unfavourable treatment, for instance failing to promote a woman because she is pregnant, making her redundant because she is pregnant or refusing to allow her time off work to attend antenatal appointments. Excluding a woman from training or social events or making unwanted comments about her pregnancy may also amount to pregnancy discrimination in the workplace.

The Working Families website is an excellent resource

You can access their online contact form here

Further resources are mentioned below

Maternity Action



An employer must carry out a risk assessment and where this suggests there may be health and safety risks associated with a pregnant employee’s role, an employer must look at whether the risks can be reduced or consider if there is any alternative work that the woman can do whilst she is pregnant or remains at risk. If there is no other suitable employment, the employee must be suspended on full pay for as long as necessary to avoid the risks. Your employer is obliged to do this to avoid pregnancy employment discrimination.

If an employee is placed at risk of redundancy during her pregnancy, her employer is under an obligation to offer her any other suitable alternative employment and she should be given priority over other employees. If an employee is selected for redundancy whilst she is pregnant, she may have a claim for automatically unfair dismissal if she was selected for redundancy because she was pregnant at the time. A pregnancy discrimination lawyer can guide you on this.

If an employee is treated unfavourably or dismissed because she is pregnant or because she suffers any pregnancy related illness, she should seek advice from specialist pregnancy lawyers as soon as possible as there are strict time limits to bring a claim in the Employment Tribunal. Unlike some other claims, there is no minimum length of service required to be able to bring a claim for pregnancy discrimination – you acquire rights from the time you are pregnant even if you have only worked for your employer for a very short time.

If an employee is dismissed whilst pregnant, she is entitled to ask for written reasons for her dismissal. If her employer fails to provide written reasons within 14 days, the employee may make a claim in the Employment Tribunal and if it is found that the employer unreasonably failed to provide reasons, the Tribunal will award the equivalent of two weeks’ pay.

At didlaw we are experienced and committed pregnancy discrimination lawyers, with working mums and dads in our team who can empathise with your situation. So, look no further for your pregnancy discrimination lawyer in London. We act for women across the nation. We’re not just any other pregnancy lawyers!

If you have experienced employment law pregnancy discrimination, Maternity Action has a free advice line and can offer information on your rights in the workplace. Or you can speak to us if you think you need to take legal action.


Pregnancy discrimination at work examples:

  • If your boss treats you worse than someone else at work because you are pregnant. For example, if your boss overlooks you for a promotion because you are pregnant.
  • If your employer dismisses you because you informed them you are pregnant.  

If you think that you have been discriminated against because you are pregnant, then we can help you. At didlaw we are experienced and committed pregnancy discrimination lawyers.  Our team includes working mums and dads who can empathise with your situation. 

Can an employer sack a pregnant woman?

It is automatically unfair (at any time) to dismiss an employee when the reason or principal reason for the dismissal (or selection for redundancy) is connected to her pregnancy.

If the reason for dismissal is not connected to her pregnancy, the employee may still have an ordinary claim for unfair dismissal under section 98 of the Employment Rights Act 1996 if they have worked at the organisation for two years and if a fair process is not followed. 

How common is pregnancy discrimination?

In our experience, pregnancy discrimination is very common.  It ranges from small insidious examples of poor treatment that taken in isolation, or together, amount to discrimination, to campaigns lasting months of mistreatment, such as imposition of extreme workloads, obstructing time off for antenatal appointments, and creation of “redundancies” during maternity leave. 

A survey carried out by the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) in June 2017 found that 77% of mothers said that they had had a negative and possibly discriminatory experience during pregnancy, maternity leave or after their return from maternity leave.

Organisations like Pregnant then Screwed have also collated statistics which can be found on their website. 

At didlaw we are experienced and committed pregnancy discrimination lawyers.  Our team includes working mums and dads who can empathise with your situation. If you think that you have been discriminated against because you are pregnant or are on maternity leave, then we can help you.  

What does the Equality Act say about pregnancy?

Being pregnant or on maternity leave is one of the nine “protected characteristics” covered by the Equality Act 2010. An employer must not discriminate against a women they employ or are considering employing because: 

The protection starts when the woman becomes pregnant and its duration depends on her statutory maternity leave entitlements and will vary for each woman. This is known as the ‘protected period’. 

The protected period will end two weeks after the end of the pregnancy where the women is a job applicant, or failed to provide the relevant notice of ordinary and additional maternity leave (and as such is not entitled to it), or is not an employee, or where she had a miscarriage or still birth before 24 weeks of pregnancy. 

Can employers discriminate against pregnancy?

The general rule is no. Being pregnant or on maternity leave is one of the nine “protected characteristics” covered by the Equality Act 2010 and protects a woman from being treated unfavourably because of her pregnancy. 

Employers are allowed to treat women differently to comply with legislation (such as health and safety legislation) designed to protect women in relation to their pregnancy or maternity and any other circumstances giving rise to risks specifically affecting women.

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