Raising concerns of maternity discrimination (grievances, requesting information, time limits and getting advice)
What can I do if I am worried about how I am being treated because of my pregnancy?
It is advisable to resolve matters informally first. If this does not succeed, raise your concerns more formally in writing. Below are some of the options:
- Speak to your union representative, and ask them to raise your concerns with your employer.
- Raise your concerns informally with your manager or human resources.
- Write, or send an email to your employer explaining your concerns and setting out what you would like to happen.
- Refer your employer to the Equality Commission for Northern Ireland, or the Labour Relations Agency website so they can check what their legal obligations are 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 Relations Agency Code of Practice on Discipline and Grievance.
- Seek free advice from the Equality Commission for Northern Ireland 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 attend a meeting with your employer to discuss your grievance, unless you cannot do so because you are ill or your baby is ill. There may be other means of having a discussion, for example over the telephone.
If I think my employer has discriminated against me, can I ask them why 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. Your employer is not legally required to respond to your questions about why you were treated unfavourably. If you take a formal claim, a tribunal may look at whether the employer has answered questions or not and how they have answered them, and take that into account when making their decision on your discrimination claim.
This is a formal procedure and there are time limits to be observed and procedure to follow. Further guidance can be found on the Equality Commission’s website: Complaints process
Should I take notes at meetings to discuss my grievance and confirm what has been agreed?
Yes, it is advisable to take notes of meetings and discussions. You should also be aware that you are allowed to take a union representative or a work colleague into meetings.
If you do 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 an email to your employer confirming what you discussed. Then you will both have a record.
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 raise 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 Discipline and Grievance
Can my employer dismiss me for making a complaint or raising a grievance?
It would be unlawful victimisation to dismiss you 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 Employment Tribunals website
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 online: Equality Commission provision of legal advice and assistance (pdf).