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Want to stay on the right side of the law? We support businesses and public authorities and help them to promote good practice.

Pregnancy and maternity at work

Pregnancy at work

What you need to know

How we can help



Pregnancy and maternity at work

Pregnant women and new mothers have legal employment rights which are designed to protect their health and safety and that of their expected or new-born children. These rights also protect their contractual terms and conditions of employment and are designed to prevent unlawful discrimination.

Pregnant women and new mothers have the right to:
  • paid time-off for ante-natal care
  • maternity leave
  • maternity pay
  • protection from unfair treatment or dismissal

Guidance for employers

As an employer, never try to avoid these legal duties by simply refusing to employ any pregnant women, new mothers or women of child bearing age. Such a policy would certainly amount to sex, pregnancy or maternity discrimination and is likely to be unlawful.

Helpful topics
As an employer you will need to ensure that you, and your managers, understand your legal duties, are committed to fulfilling them and make decisions in a reasoned, consistent and fair manner. The following topics provide guidance on specific issues relating to pregnancy and maternity:

Download our full guidance:
This guidance was produced in partnership with the Labour Relations Agency

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Employers & Service Providers

How we can help

We believe that helping you promote and encourage good equal opportunities practice is as important as enforcing the equality law. Every year, the Commission helps hundreds of businesses and organisations comply with equality laws.

We recognise that employers' needs differ across sectors and businesses – so we tailor our services to meet employers’ varying needs.


We provide high quality training seminars and information sessions to employers on a wide range of equality issues.

These events provide advice and guidance on employers’ duties under current equality laws and on introducing best practice. We recommend that employers carefully consider their needs and choose the seminars and sessions which are of most benefit to them.


    Training sessions include:

   •  Introduction to understanding equality
   •  Equality training for line managers
   •  Recruiting fairly
   •  Harassment at work
   •  Pregnancy, maternity and flexible working
   •  Mental ill-health at work
   •  Promoting disability in the workplace 
   •  Reasonable steps defence
   •  How to complete an Article 55 Review
   •  Monitoring form workshops







We are flexible in terms of themes covered and can tailor courses to suit employers’ business needs. Further details are available on our employer training page or email - Tel: 02890 500600


In-house training

On occasion, the Commission can provide in-house training for organisations.  Where we agree to such a request, we will normally deliver one session to key staff within the organisation and assist them to disseminate the training internally. For in-house training requests email or Tel: 028 90 500600.

Speakers for your event

If you are organising an equality related event, our staff can share their expertise to highlight relevant issues in equality law that relate to your business priorities. For further information, contact Paul Oakes  Tel: 028 90 500600.

Employer news ezine

To receive updates on our training seminars, events and employer equality networks sign up to receive our Employer & Service Providers' Newsletter using the subscribe button at the bottom of the page.



For further information download our guide for employers:

If you are looking for a particular publication, you can search our publications database

The Commission also provides training seminars covering pregnancy and maternity issues in the workplace. 


Additional Resources:


Department for Employment and Learning

Labour Relations Agency

Further information is available under the Legislation section of our website (Gender discrimination laws)

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