It is against the law to discriminate against you because of your pregnancy or on maternity leave. If you have been treated differently because of this, you may have a claim in an Employment Tribunal.
The treatment could be a one-off incident or a series of events which when added together result in you being treated unreasonably. It doesn’t have to be intentional to be unlawful.
You can take action to stop it and bring a claim in a Tribunal. This is where we come in. We are employment law specialists – it’s all we do.
Under the Equality Act 2010, there is no minimum qualifying period to enforce your rights – it is an automatic right, no matter how long you have worked somewhere. It covers job applicants too.
The protected period
You are protected from being discriminated against from the date you become pregnant until the end of your maternity leave and return to work. If you aren’t entitled to maternity leave because you are not an employee, the protected period ends two weeks after your child is born.
How can a pregnant woman be discriminated against?
It is all too common for pregnant women to be discriminated against at work. This can include:
- Not offering you the same training or promotion opportunities
- Treating you unfavourably because you have a pregnancy-related sickness
- Dismissing you before your return from maternity leave
- Making you redundant because you are pregnant, or for reasons related to your maternity leave
- Keeping on the person who is covering for you whilst you are on maternity leave, so you can’t return to your old role.
Can I return to my old job?
Yes. At the end of maternity leave, you have the right to return to your original role, on the same terms and conditions you had prior to your maternity leave.
What extra rights do I have compared to colleagues during redundancy?
If there are going to be redundancies your employer is allowed to “positively discriminate” in your favour. You have the right to be offered any suitable alternative vacancy, if one is available, without an interview.
What can I do to help my case?
If you are still at work and you cannot resolve the matter informally with your line manager, then it is usually best to first lodge a grievance. Your employer will then be obliged to investigate your complaint. We recognise there are times when a grievance isn’t appropriate.
We will advise you of what your options are. These can include bringing a claim for discrimination and possibly resigning and bringing a constructive dismissal claim too. If appropriate, we can work for you to negotiate an exit on your behalf.
I’m afraid to complain about discrimination
The Equality Act protects you if you’re treated badly because you’ve complained about discrimination or stood up for discrimination rights, either for yourself or for someone else. We will help to protect you and enforce your rights.
What compensation am I entitled to?
Unlike ‘normal’ unfair dismissal, there is no maximum amount of compensation a Tribunal can award you.
In addition to damages for any losses you have suffered – such as wages or pension, compensation normally includes an award for injury to feelings. Tribunals are guided in what to award.
- Lower band (less serious cases): £800 to £8,400
- Middle band: £8,400 to £25,200
- Upper band (the most serious cases): £25,200 to £42,000
In exceptional cases, the award will be over £42,000
What do I do now?
This is where we come in. Employment law is all we do.
It can often feel like your employer holds all the power. They will likely have experienced HR professionals or a solicitor working in the background. That’s why you need the best support and advice available. You need a specialist employment lawyer – one who will push for the best outcome for you.
We understand how it feels. We have helped hundreds of employees and because we act for businesses too, we know the tactics you’re likely to face from your employer. We know every trick in the book.
We will advise you of your options and how best to proceed – whether you want to return to work or you would like us to negotiate an exit on your behalf.
You only have a limited amount of time to take action to preserve your employment rights – usually just three months (less one day) from the date of the last act of discrimination or your employment ends.
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