Pregnancy Discrimination Law
The Equality Act 2010 states that women who are pregnant are not allowed to be treated less favourably by their employers because they are pregnant – a right originally established by the [Sex Discrimination Act 1975]. The Employment Rights Act 1996 also protects the employment status of pregnant women. This means they cannot be dismissed because of their pregnancy, and they also have certain rights to which they are entitled to while they are pregnant. If they are denied those rights or are dismissed due to pregnancy, they will be entitled to bring a pregnancy discrimination claim against their employer.
Pregnancy Discrimination – required proof
If a woman is dismissed during her pregnancy, she will need to be able to prove to an Employment Tribunal that she would not otherwise have been dismissed. A similar situation applies to women made redundant while pregnant: the employer cannot select them for redundancy simply because they are pregnant – there must be another, valid reason for doing so.
Also, if a woman is made to do work that puts her in a dangerous health and safety situation due to her pregnancy, this could be cause for a pregnancy discrimination claim. She would also be entitled to a risk assessment to make sure her health and safety was maintained throughout her pregnancy.
If you have been dismissed during pregnancy, your employer should provide you with written reasons for the dismissal. It is extremely rare that they actually admit that the dismissal is because of pregnancy, because they are not allowed to do so. This means that other reasons (such as incompetence or misconduct) are generally given, and so the woman in question would have to prove that they were false grounds for dismissal.
The need to inform your employer
You are protected from pregnancy discrimination once you have informed your employer of your pregnancy. A lot of women tell their employer at 15 weeks, as this is when they are required to do so, but others choose to do it sooner, such as if they need time off for ante-natal care.
If you think that you have a pregnancy discrimination claim, you are likely to have to take your employer to an Employment Tribunal in order to make your case and explain why you believe they were discriminating against you.
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