Pregnancy and Maternity Discrimination Solicitors

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Pregnancy and Maternity Discrimination Solicitors

Our employment law team have considerable experience in advising employees on the law relating to pregnancy and maternity discrimination, including unfair treatment and victimisation. In some cases, an obvious comment, witnessed, may lead to a claim, but discrimination is often more subtle and difficult to prove.  Therefore, advice should be sought from specialist solicitors in this area.

IBB Law’s employment law team can provide clear, practical guidance on all areas of unlawful discrimination. Our team includes some of the region’s top ranked employment lawyers with decades of experience representing employees of all levels.

For pregnancy and maternity discrimination advice and representation, please contact our experienced employment solicitors today on 03456 381381 or email your details to

What is pregnancy and maternity discrimination?

The Equality Act 2010 (EqA) prohibits discrimination against individuals in the areas of employment, education, and the provision of goods, facilities and services for a protected characteristic (i.e. age, disability, gender reassignment, marriage and civil partnership, pregnancy and maternity, race, religion or belief, sex, or sexual orientation).

Whether you are an employee, a worker (engaged under a contract personally to execute work or labour), or a contractor (whose labour is supplied by your employer to another person) you are legally protected. You have rights whatever your length of service and whatever hours you work.

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

Legal protection against pregnancy and maternity discrimination applies even if some of the work is to be done outside Great Britain but will not apply if the work is to be done wholly outside Great Britain. It applies before, during and after employment.

What is discrimination because of pregnancy and maternity?

Discrimination because of pregnancy and maternity occurs where an employer treats you unfavourably:

  • during the protected period (i.e. from when pregnancy starts until it ends, including maternity leave), because of your pregnancy or because of a pregnancy related illness
  • because you are on compulsory maternity leave (i.e. 2 weeks [or 4 weeks if you work in a factory] following the birth of your baby)
  • because you are exercising or seeking to exercise, or have exercised or sought to exercise, the right to ordinary or additional maternity leave(i.e. 26 weeks and 52 weeks respectively).

An employer will be guilty of a criminal offence if it allows you to work during compulsory maternity leave.

There is no requirement for a comparator.

Risk assessments

All employers are under a duty to carry out a workplace risk assessment to protect the health and wellbeing of its employees, worker and contractors.  However, an employer will be required to carry out a specific risk assessment and alter working conditions or hours of work or provide suitable alternative work to avoid any significant risk to the health and safety of new or expectant mothers.  In some instances, if there is no suitable alternative work, your employer must suspend you on full pay for as long as necessary to avoid the risk.

What is direct pregnancy and maternity discrimination?

Direct pregnancy and maternity discrimination occurs where because of your pregnancy and maternity, you are treated less favourably than a person who is who is neither pregnant nor on maternity leave.

Less favourable treatment means a detriment of a kind that a reasonable person would or might take the view that in all the circumstances you have been disadvantaged.  An unjustified sense of grievance cannot amount to a detriment.  It is not necessary to demonstrate some physical or economic consequence.

For example:

  • an employer decides not to offer a prospective employee a job when she announces that she is pregnant during an interview.

Unlike other forms of discrimination, there is no perceived discrimination and no discrimination by association because of pregnancy and maternity.

Direct discrimination cannot be objectively justified.

What is indirect pregnancy and maternity discrimination?

Pregnancy and maternity is excluded under the EqA for the purposes of indirect discrimination. However, an individual may seek to rely on indirect sex discrimination in pregnancy and maternity situations.

Can you have pregnancy and maternity harassment?

Pregnancy and maternity is excluded under the EqA for the purposes of harassment. However, an individual may seek to rely on harassment relating to her sex.

What is victimisation?

Victimisation occurs where you are treated less favourably than another person whose circumstances are the same because you:

  • brought claim under the EqA
  • gave evidence or information in connection with a claim under the EqA
  • did any other thing for the purposes of or in connection with the EqA
  • alleged that your employer or another person has committed an act that contravenes the EqA.

Less favourable treatment means a detriment (see above).

What remedies are available for pregnancy and maternity discrimination?

If you are an employee, worker or job applicant who believes your employer (or another worker) has discriminated against you then you can bring an employment tribunal claim.

If you who believe that an organisation has discriminated against you in the provision of goods, facilities and services, you can bring a claim in the county court.

Tribunals and courts can award unlimited compensation, which can include an award for injury to feeling and financial loss because of the discrimination.

How long do you have to bring an employment tribunal claim?

An employment tribunal claim under the EqA relating to pregnancy and maternity discrimination must be received by a tribunal within 3 months of the complaining act (i.e. 3 months less 1 day).  This can be the last act in a series of detrimental acts over a period of time.  The time limit is a strict one and will only be extended in certain circumstances.

The time limit can be extended during Acas early conciliation, which must be started before the time limit has expired.

Please see our page Acas early conciliation.

Contact our specialist pregnancy and maternity solicitors today

IBB Law’s employment law specialists represent individuals at all levels no matter the size or sector of the company. If you feel that you have been subjected to unlawful discrimination, we can offer fast, reliable guidance on what to do.

Contact our specialist pregnancy and maternity discrimination solicitors today on 03456 381381 or email your details to

The material contained in this web page is provided for general purposes only and does not constitute legal or other professional advice. Appropriate legal advice should be sought for specific circumstances and before action is taken.