I am in my probation period at work, should I tell my employer I am pregnant?
It is advisable to tell your employer that you are pregnant as early as possible. This is because:
you may need to take time off for antenatal care
you may need protection from health and safety risks, and
you are only legally protected from less favourable treatment because of your pregnancy once your employer knows or suspects you are pregnant.
If you have started a new job and do not pass your probation period, and are dismissed from your job for any reason in relation to your pregnancy this would be pregnancy discrimination
When must I tell my employer that I am pregnant?
To take maternity leave, you must tell your employer by the 15th week before the baby is due (that is by the time you are about six months pregnant):
- that you are pregnant
- the week you expect to give birth, and
- when you intend your maternity leave to start. This cannot be before the beginning of the 11th week before the week you expect to give birth.
It is advisable, but not a legal requirement, to write to your employer saying you are pregnant, so there is a record you have provided the right information at the right time.
However, you must write to your employer to say you are pregnant if you are asking for a change to your working conditions for health and safety reasons giving the information listed above.
Can my job be changed because I am pregnant?
Your job must not be changed because you are pregnant, unless:
you agree to change in the work you are doing and your responsibilities
you cannot do part of your job for health and safety reasons, for example if your job involves heavy lifting. Your employer must remove the risk, offer you different and safe work or allow you to be on paid leave, or
you need to hand over your duties and responsibilities before you start your maternity leave.
What if a change in job duties or responsibilities leads to my job being made redundant?
If changes in your job have arisen out of health and safety concerns or because of your pregnancy-related illness, and they would not be permanent changes, then your ‘real’ role has not been made redundant. To make you redundant in that situation is likely to be pregnancy discrimination.
Also see “Can my job be changed because I am pregnant?”
My manager has treated me differently since I said I was pregnant. What should I do?
If you are being treated badly, for example, you are not being consulted about work or not invited to meetings, and the reason is because of your pregnancy, then this is unlawful pregnancy discrimination. It is advisable to have a meeting with your manager to ask him/her the reason for the difference in treatment, say how it is affecting you and how it is making it difficult for you to do your job.
If an informal discussion does not resolve the issues, you could:
- Ask your union representative to raise your concerns with your employer.
- Raise your concerns informally with human resources.
- Write or email to your manager or human resources explaining your concerns and setting out what you would like to happen.
- Refer your employer to the Equality Commission's guidance for employers: pregnancy and maternity at work
- Refer your employer to the Labour Relations Agency's advisory services so they can check out their 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.
- Speak to the Equality Commission NI to discuss your concerns.
- Ask a solicitor to write to your employer. This should be a last resort.
I’ve informed my employer that I feel treated badly because I am pregnant? What should they do?
Your employer must take all reasonable steps to make sure that you do not experience any less favourable treatment because of your pregnancy. After you have raised your concerns with a manager or human resources department, your employer should investigate what has happened and take action to prevent future less favourable treatment.
If your employer does not take any action, you have to decide whether to take a formal grievance and if that does not resolve the situation, decide whether you wish to make a claim of discrimination to an Industrial Tribunal. If your health has been affected it is advisable to see your doctor.
I’m upset when colleagues make jokes about my pregnancy. What can I do?
It is likely to be pregnancy discrimination if colleagues make jokes about your pregnancy and this creates a negative or intimidating atmosphere which you find upsetting. It is advisable to tell your colleagues how their jokes make you feel, and ask them to stop making jokes about you, or if you find that difficult, speak to your manager or human resources team about the situation, and ask them to speak to your colleagues on your behalf.
My partner has been told not to travel for work because I may give birth early. Is this allowed?
European law says that a person can be protected from associative discrimination. That is when a person is treated less favourably because of their association with a person with a particular characteristic that is protected from discrimination by law, for example where they are treated less favourably because they are caring for their disabled child. It is not clear whether this would apply in the case of pregnancy discrimination, but it may do.
Because the law is not clear on this point, it is advisable to take legal advice if your partner has been treated less favourably because of your pregnancy.
My partner believes he/she is being treated badly because I am pregnant. What rights do partners have?
If your partner is treated badly or disadvantaged because you are pregnant, for example by missing out on promotion, this may be discrimination because of their relationship (that is association) with you, as a pregnant woman.
It would also be unlawful to treat a partner badly for taking (or because the employer thinks s/he is going to take) shared parental leave. Because the law is not clear on this point your partner should take legal advice if s/he is treated badly because of your pregnancy or because s/he is intending to take shared parental leave.