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Pregnancy and maternity

Pregnancy and maternity

SKU: 11.15
  • Advice

    The Equality Act (2010) makes clear that you cannot experience unfavourable treatment or discrimination due to being pregnant, breastfeeding or because you have recently given birth. Discrimination relating to these areas takes many forms.


    What is the definition of unfavourable treatment?

    Unfavourable treatment constitutes any situation where an individual is discriminated against, examples of such would include a pregnant woman not being given a job where mobility is a key requirement.


    Pregnancy and maternity don’t have to be the only ways that discrimination takes place. Other forms of discrimination such as race or gender can also be experienced simultaneously with pregnancy and maternity based discrimination. The most important factor is being able to demonstrate pregnancy and maternity based discrimination. Furthermore, whatever reasoning they had behind their discrimination whether it originates from good intentions are not are covered by the Equality Act. For example, a shop owner refuses to sell you alcohol due to seeing that you’re pregnant. While this action may have arisen from good intentions, the action is still an example of unfair discrimination. 


    Pregnancy and Maternity Discrimination at Work

    It is unlawful to be treated unfavourably due to being pregnant, or because you have a pregnancy-related illness. However, claiming discrimination on these grounds only lasts for a specific period. This period is called the protected period and can last anywhere from two weeks after your pregnancy to a few months. For example, if you have a right to maternity leave, this period of protection will end either when your maternity leave ends or if you decide to return to work. 


    If, however, you do not have maternity leave (not an employee), this protection period ends two weeks after your child was born. This means that any unfavourable treatment that you experience after this period cannot come under Pregnancy and Maternity discrimination protection when seeking support. However, you would still be protected against discrimination under other acts such as sex or Gender reassignment. 


    Once you’ve given birth, it is also unlawful to treat someone unfairly for the following reasons: 

    • You’re on maternity leave;
    • You’ve been on maternity leave; or
    • You’ve tried to take the maternity leave that you’re entitled to.


    Pregnancy and maternity leave outside of work

    It is still unlawful to discriminate against an individual for the following reasons even when outside of the workplace:

    • You are pregnant;
    • You have been pregnant in the past;
    • You’ve given birth, or you 
    • Are breastfeeding. 


    For the two above reasons, it does not matter when the discrimination took place as long as you can prove that unfair treatment took place due to a past or present pregnancy. However, if you have just given birth or are breastfeeding, you are only protected for 26 weeks following the day you gave birth. If you experience discrimination past 26 weeks, it would be claimed as sex discrimination.  


    For example, if you are breastfeeding a seven-week-old baby at a restaurant and a waiter comes to you saying you must either stop breastfeeding or leave the premises due to a complaint from another customer. This would be an instance of pregnancy and maternity discrimination as it took place within 26 weeks. If, however, you still experience discrimination for breastfeeding past the 26-week marker, this will only constitute sex-based discrimination. 


    What am I entitled to if I have a stillborn or miscarriage? 

    If you were pregnant for 24 weeks but then have a stillborn baby, you are still protected under all pregnancy and maternity discrimination coverage. The date of your baby’s stillbirth will be on the certificate of stillbirth issued by a registrar, midwife or doctor. If your baby was delivered at the end of the 24th week of pregnancy, you are entitled to maternity leave and any maternity pay that you qualify for. 


    If your baby is stillborn and you have not yet started maternity leave, your leave will begin the day after you have a stillborn baby. If your baby dies within the first 28 days of life, this will be known as a neonatal death. If your baby was born alive at any point during your pregnancy but did not survive, you are still entitled to maternity leave and pay that you may qualify for. You may also qualify for parental bereavement leave if that is something that your organisation provides. 


    If, however, you have a stillbirth before the 24th week, this will be labelled as a miscarriage. Unfortunately, you do not qualify for maternity leave or pay if you have a miscarriage. However, you can ask your workplace for compassionate leave or if you are not well enough to return to work pursue sick pay and leave as a substitute. 


    When is it acceptable to experience unfavourable treatment?

    It is lawful for a service provider to ban pregnant people from participating in certain activities. For example, a gym club, swimming pool or amusement park may refuse to provide a service (allow you on a ride for example) if they believe it to be a danger to you or your baby. This must be a reasonable safety concern and only counts as lawful if you would treat someone with other physical conditions the same. For instance, excluding someone with back issues or who is too short from a rollercoaster ride. 


    How we can help

    To gain our assistance you need to open a case, this is done by taking advantage of our free consultation service, activated by the link at the top of the page, should you wish to start a case the caseworker will send you the suitable payment link. 


    Please note your caseworker can only give generic advice, their role is to prepare your details for handling by our legal team and to act as your point of contact, they will also issue you with your Password and PIN, these will be needed to log onto your client dashboard. From your dashboard you will be able to manage and view every aspect of your case, upload documents, images, files etc.

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