Raising concerns of maternity discrimination
What can I do if I am worried about how I am being treated because of my maternity leave?
(raising a grievance, requesting information, taking an industrial tribunal claim, getting advice)
It is advisable to try to resolve matters informally first and if this does not succeed, raise your concerns formally in writing. You can:
- Ask your union representative to raise your concerns with your employer.
- Raise your concerns informally with your manager or Human Resources department.
- Write, or email, your employer explaining your concerns and setting out what you would like to happen.
- Refer your employer to the Equality Commission NI or the Labour Relations Agency website so they can check their legal obligations to you.
- Speak to the Health and Safety Executive if you are concerned about your employer’s failure to comply with their health and safety obligations.
- Raise a formal grievance in writing. Your employer should follow their grievance procedure which should be consistent with the Labour Relation Agency’s Code of Practice.
- Seek free advice from the Equality Commission or your local Citizens’ Advice Bureau.
- Ask a solicitor to write to your employer but this should be a last resort.
Do I have to attend a meeting with my employer to discuss my grievance?
Yes, it is advisable to have a meeting to talk about your concerns unless you cannot because you are ill or your baby is ill. There may be other means of having a discussion, for example over the telephone.
Should I take notes at meetings to discuss my grievance and confirm what has been agreed?
Yes, it is advisable to have a written record of all conversations and meetings. You should also be aware that you are allowed to take a union representative or a work colleague into meetings.
If you go to a meeting on your own, it is advisable to make notes of what was said either during the meeting, or immediately afterwards. If something has been agreed, it is best to write to your employer confirming in brief what was discussed and the outcome. Then you will both have a record.
Can I ask my employer why they treated me badly and do they have to respond?
You can issue your employer a questionnaire which will help you to decide whether or not to take your complaint further. Although your employer is not legally required to respond to your questions, failure to respond or to respond in an unhelpful way may be taken in to account if you decide to take a claim to the Industrial Tribunal.
This is a formal procedure to follow and there are time limits to be observed. Further guidance can be found on the complaints process section of our website.
When should I raise a formal grievance?
You should raise a formal grievance when you have not been able to settle things informally and you do not think that your employer will take your concerns seriously unless you follow the grievance procedure.
Do I have to raise a grievance before making a claim to an industrial tribunal?
It is advisable to follow your employer’s grievance procedure before lodging a tribunal claim. However, this will not usually extend the statutory time limit within which you must lodge proceedings. If you are successful at the tribunal and you are awarded compensation, the amount you receive may be reduced if the tribunal decides that it was unreasonable for you not to take a grievance.
What grievance procedure should my employer follow?
Your employer should follow their grievance procedure which should be consistent with the Labour Relations Agency's Code of Practice on Disciplinary and Grievance procedures
Can my employer dismiss me for making a complaint or raising a grievance?
It would be unlawful victimisation to dismiss you or treat you badly for complaining about discrimination.
What steps do I have to follow to take a claim to an industrial tribunal?
There are a number of steps you need to follow to take a claim to the Tribunal. You can learn more about them in the Tribunal section
of our website.
You may wish to seek legal advice
from the Equality Commission NI
Where can I get advice?
- If you are a union member, you should take advice from your union as soon as a problem arises. You can then discuss with the union what to do next.
- You can seek free advice from the Equality Commission for Northern Ireland
- Your local Citizen’s Advice Bureau
- A specialist solicitor but you would probably have to pay.
- The Equality Commission may be able to provide you with legal assistance. The Commission’s policy is available on their website: Equality Commission provision of legal advice and assistance (pdf).