Equal pay: pregnancy and maternity

The following Employment practice note provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:

  • Equal pay: pregnancy and maternity
  • Maternity equality clause
  • No comparator required
  • Effect of maternity equality clause
  • The protected period
  • Effect of pay increases on maternity-related pay
  • Timing of payments
  • Effect of pay increases on pay after return from maternity leave
  • Pensions—maternity equality rule
  • Relationship with pregnancy and maternity discrimination provisions
  • More...

Equal pay: pregnancy and maternity

This Practice Note examines the concept of equal pay (equality of terms) in relation to women who are pregnant or absent from work on maternity leave.

A woman absent on maternity leave is in a unique position, which requires her to be afforded special protection, but which is not comparable with that of a man actually at work. A woman on maternity leave is not therefore entitled to full pay, despite the principle of equal pay under the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union. However, this does not mean that a woman on maternity leave is excluded from all equal pay rights whilst on maternity leave (see: Effect of maternity equality clause below).

As is the case with non-maternity protection (see Practice Note: Equal pay: definition of 'pay'—The principle of equal pay for equal work), the Equality Act 2010 (EqA 2010) differentiates between:

  1. contractual entitlements: these are covered by the maternity equality of terms (equal pay) provisions, which apply a maternity equality clause into a woman's contract

  2. non-contractual entitlements: these must be brought under the discrimination (prohibited conduct provisions of EqA 2010. For further information, see Practice Notes: Direct discrimination, Indirect discrimination, Pregnancy and maternity discrimination, Employment events which give rise to discrimination, harassment and victimisation claims and Discrimination, victimisation and harassment claims by non-employees

Maternity equality clause

Where the terms of

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