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Equality for Human Rights announced that 54,000 women lose their jobs each year due to pregnancy and maternity related discrimination

The Equality for Human Rights announced in July 2015, that 54,000 women lose their jobs each year due to pregnancy and maternity related discrimination and 10% of employers discourage their employees to attend antenatal appointments.

What is unlawful pregnancy and maternity discrimination during pregnancy?

It is unlawful pregnancy and maternity discrimination if you treat an employee unfavorably for the following situations:-

  1. The employee is pregnant, or for a reason related to the employees pregnancy,
  2. The employee is off work with illness related to her pregnancy,
  3. The employee is about to go on maternity leave.

You might then be asking yourself the question but half of my workforce are self-employed or only have one year’s length of service. Under the Act all employees, casual workers, agency workers, freelancers and self-employed women (who are pregnant) are protected from pregnancy discrimination from the first day of their employment and do not need two years length of service to bring a claim for discrimination.

Employers should ensure that the prevent discrimination and promote equality in the following situations:-

  • recruitment
  • determining pay;
  • access to training and promotion;
  • discipline and grievances;
  • redundancy selection and the process involved

When is an employee protected from discrimination?

Protection from pregnancy discrimination lasts from the beginning of the employee’s pregnancy until the end of the maternity leave. The employee is protected from pregnancy discrimination as soon as the employer knows, believes or suspects that she is pregnant.

Employees that have undergone IVF treatment are protected under the legislation once any fertilized ova are transferred to the uterus.

Employees have certain rights when they are pregnant and should not be treated unfavorably as a result. Employers should also carry out a risk assessment to ensure the employee is not subject to any health and safety risks, which may harm her or her child.

To ensure you treat your employee equally and fairly whilst pregnant and on maternity leave we would advise you do the following:-

  1. Ensure that a risk assessment is carried out;
  2. Make any reasonable adjustments to ensure the employee can carry out her work without causing harm to her unborn baby;
  3. Carry out regular review meetings and ensure she is being supported;
  4. Encourage the employee to attend antenatal appointments;
  5. Arrange keep in touch day (KIT) with the employee whilst she is on maternity leave;
  6. Inform her of any developments that have taken place whilst she is on maternity leave;
  7. Ensure the employee is offered equal access to new job opportunities and promotion within the business

Employees have certain rights during ordinary and additional maternity leave

The employee is entitled to the benefit of the companies’ terms and conditions (except pay) during maternity leave. This includes, for example:

  1. Accrued holiday entitlement: If the employee takes one year’s maternity leave she is entitled to holiday entitlement for the year, which can be taken at a time agreed with the employer;
  2. Full pension contributions for the period of paid leave, which is likely to be 39 weeks of statutory maternity pay (SMP);
  3. Participation in share ownership scheme;
  4. Membership of a health club;
  5. Reimbursement of professional subscriptions;
  6. Health and life insurance;
  7. Use of company car, unless it is for business use only;
  8. Use of mobile phone and laptop unless it is for business use only;
  9. The benefit of a pay rise, which is given to other employees.

How to protect your Company from pregnancy or maternity discrimination

There are many simple ways in which you prevent discrimination in the workplace. Firstly, we would suggest implementing a clear and concise Equal Opportunities Policy that sets out your organization’s commitment to equality. This policy needs to be communicated to managers.

Secondly, it is important to provide managers training on why it is important to treat people equally and fairly and explain to them the different types of discrimination.

Thirdly, monitoring the progress of the Equal Opportunities Policy and whether employees’ need additional training.

Do you need help implementing the appropriate measures to avoid discrimination in the workplace? Call KLG today on 0808 1151 040 for your free consultation and find out how we can help you to avoid employee discrimination claims.

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