Pregnancy and maternity discrimination

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 The core provisions of the Equality Act 2010, which repealed the Sex Discrimination Act 1975, came into force on 1 October 2010.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.


Worker awarded compensation after missed antenatal check-up

IT finance analyst is awarded £4,000 in a case involving attitudes to sickness, workloads, mental health and pregnancy.

Maternity leave and furlough: what options do HR have?

5 May 2020

The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme rules are complicated enough, without the added layer of complexity surrounding maternity leave and new...

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Law firm employee dismissed because she was pregnant awarded £23k

21 Apr 2020

A law firm has been ordered to pay more than £23,000 for pregnancy discrimination after it sacked a pregnant employee...

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Liz Earle Beauty Company adopted discriminatory redundancy process for pregnant worker

8 Apr 2020

The Liz Earle Beauty Company must pay a former employee more than £17,000 for pregnancy and maternity discrimination, after it...

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Top 10 HR questions March 2020: Coronavirus

2 Apr 2020

The coronavirus pandemic dominated the top 10 most popular FAQs in March.
The coronavirus outbreak is having a big impact...

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Sacked pregnant worker wins £17k compensation from Liz Earle Beauty Company

10 Jan 2020

Helen Larkin was made redundant at eight months' pregnant.

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Family-friendly rights: what to look out for in 2020 and beyond

10 Jan 2020

Brexit seemed to put the brakes on progress for family-friendly rights last year, but 2020 and beyond could see some...

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Female police officer wins sexism appeal over London allowance

3 Dec 2019

A female police officer’s claim for sex discrimination has been upheld after she did not receive a ‘London allowance’ during her maternity leave.

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#MeToo at two: how far have we come?

15 Oct 2019

The #MeToo movement is two years old this week and has been influential in altering behaviour, bolstering equality and respect...

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Back to basics: Employment law foundations critical for all businesses

9 Oct 2019

Brenda Charnock examines the case of a woman unfairly dismissed for being pregnant and asks why some employers fail to...

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Top 10 HR questions August 2019: term-time holiday calculations

3 Sep 2019

How should you calculate holiday pay for a term-time worker without regular hours?
A recent Court of Appeal decision, The...

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One in eight reluctant to hire women who may become pregnant

22 Aug 2019

One in eight (12%) employers would be reluctant to hire a woman who could become pregnant and one in seven...

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Top 10 HR questions July 2019: Spent convictions

5 Aug 2019

There are limits to the circumstances in which employers can take a candidate’s past criminal convictions into account when deciding...

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New parents and expectant mothers to receive more redundancy protections

25 Jul 2019

The legal protections for pregnant women and new mothers are to be extended to six months after they return to...

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Pregnant woman in office

Employee wins pregnancy discrimination case

24 May 2019

A woman has won a claim of unfair dismissal and discrimination after resigning from her job because of her employer's attitude toward her pregnancy.

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