All employees, casual workers, agency workers, (who are pregnant) are protected from pregnancy discrimination from the first day of their employment.
You are protected when you are applying for a job or attending an interview. Employers must not take into account the fact that you are pregnant, or might become pregnant when making recruitment decisions.
Pregnancy discrimination is unlawful in the following situations:
Access to work related benefits and services; you are entitled to all contractual benefits during maternity leave, except pay.
Access to training and promotion.
Any other disadvantage.
You must not be treated less favourably for any of the following reasons:
- You are temporarily unable to do the job for which you are employed whether permanently or on a fixed term contract; because of your pregnancy.
- You are temporarily unable to work because to do so would be a breach of health and safety regulations.
- There are costs to the business of covering your work.
- You are absent due to pregnancy-related illness.
- You cannot attend a disciplinary hearing due to morning sickness or other pregnancy-related conditions.
- Your performance at work is affected by morning sickness or other pregnancy-related conditions.
An employer will be acting unlawfully if because of your pregnancy, or pregnancy-related illness they:
- Dismiss you.
- Refuse to recruit you because you are pregnant or on maternity leave.
- Refuse to allow you to take reasonable paid time off to attend antenatal appointments.
- Criticise you for taking time off to attend antenatal appointments.
- Fail to protect your health and safety where there are any risks. (See the Health and Safety Executive's website)
- Change or remove your job responsibilities unless:
(i) it is necessary for health and safety reasons
(ii) you agree, or
(iii) it is to arrange cover just before your maternity leave.
- Discipline you or treat you badly because of pregnancy-related illness.
- Exclude you from business trips or refuse to allow you to travel, when it is still safe.
- Refuse to let you have the same training opportunities as other employees.
- Do not consider you for promotion.
- Deny you a pay rise or bonus.
- Treat you less favourably in another way, for example by ignoring you, or making hurtful comments about your pregnancy or maternity leave.
Other relevant legal provisions include protection from:
- Direct sex discrimination, which is where you are treated less favourably than a man is or would be because you are a woman (not because you are pregnant).
- Indirect sex discrimination which is where an employer applies a provision, criterion or practice to both women and men that puts women at a disadvantage compared to men and is not necessary for the business.
- Victimisation which is where you are disadvantaged because you have made a complaint of discrimination.
- Automatic unfair dismissal which is where an employee is dismissed because she is pregnant or is taking, will take, or has taken a type of family leave. You can claim automatic unfair dismissal regardless of how long you have worked for your employer.
- Unfair dismissal, which you can claim if you have worked for your employer for at least one year, and there is no ‘fair’ reason for your dismissal or there has been an unfair procedure.
Further information on unfair dismissal is available from the Labour Relations Agency's frequency asked questions