The law relating to pregnancy and maternity discrimination is governed by the Equality Act 2010. The core provisions of the Equality Act 2010, which repealed the Sex Discrimination Act 1975, came into force on 1 October 2010. While the Equality Act 2010 largely consolidated previous discrimination legislation, it also designated pregnancy and maternity as a protected characteristic in its own right.
The Equality Act 2010 specifically protects women against direct discrimination and victimisation because of the protected characteristic of pregnancy and maternity. While there are no specific provisions in the Equality Act 2010 for indirect discrimination and harassment in relation to pregnancy and maternity, a woman can claim sex discrimination in these cases. For example, many indirect sex discrimination cases are connected with the refusal of employers to allow women returning from maternity leave to work part time.