Pregnancy and maternity discrimination

By Tolley in association with Emma Bartlett at Charles Russell Speechlys LLP
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The following Employment Tax guidance note by Tolley in association with Emma Bartlett at Charles Russell Speechlys LLP provides comprehensive and up to date tax information covering:

  • Pregnancy and maternity discrimination
  • Discrimination because of pregnancy or pregnancy-related illness
  • Discrimination because of maternity leave
  • No overlap with direct discrimination protection
  • No comparator required
  • Treating someone unfavourably
  • Redundancy
  • Exceptions
  • Protection of women
  • Workplace assessments regarding risks that affect new or expectant mothers, or their babies

The Equality Act 2010 has separate provisions with regard to discrimination against a woman, which occurs because of her pregnancy or in connection with her maternity leave.

EqA 2010, s 18
Discrimination because of pregnancy or pregnancy-related illness

The provision regarding pregnancy and maternity discrimination defines a period called the ‘protected period’. That period:

  • begins when the relevant woman’s pregnancy begins, and
  • ends:
    • at the end of the additional maternity leave period, or when she returns to work after the pregnancy (if that is earlier), in cases where the woman has the right to ordinary and additional maternity leave
    • two weeks after the end of the pregnancy, if she does not have the right to ordinary and additional maternity leave

A person discriminates against a woman if, in the protected period in relation to a pregnancy of hers, he treats her unfavourably:

  • because of the pregnancy
  • because of illness suffered by her as a result of it

EqA 2010, s 18(2)

Where a decision is taken during the protected period to treat a woman unfavourably because of her pregnancy or related illness, but the treatment occurs after the end of the protected period, it will be deemed to have occurred during the protected period and will therefore constitute discrimination.

Discrimination because of maternity leave

A person discriminates against a woman if he treats her unfavourably because she is on compulsory maternity leave.

EqA 2010, s 18(3)

A person discriminates against a woman if he treats her unfavourably because she is exercising or seeking to exercise, or has exercised

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