Pregnancy and maternity discrimination

Produced by Tolley in association with Emma Bartlett at Charles Russell Speechlys LLP

The following Employment Tax guidance note Produced 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
  • Non-contractual payments exception
  • Protection of women
  • More...

Pregnancy and maternity discrimination

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

Discrimination because of pregnancy or pregnancy-related illness

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

  1. begins when the relevant woman’s pregnancy begins, and

  2. ends:

    1. at the end of the 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 maternity leave

    2. two weeks after the end of the pregnancy, if she does not have the right to maternity leave

A person discriminates against a woman if, in the protected period in relation to a pregnancy of hers, she is treated unfavourably:

  1. because of the pregnancy

  2. 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 they treat her unfavourably because she is on compulsory maternity leave.

A person discriminates against a woman if they treat her unfavourably because she is exercising or seeking to exercise, or has exercised or sought to exercise, the right to ordinary or additional maternity leave.

No overlap with direct discrimination protection

The woman must bring her claim under section 18 and may no

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