Maternity discrimination in the workplace

Maternity discrimination in the workplace

Posted on Aug 06, 2016

Maternity discrimination in the workplace



There are many forms of discrimination: direct, indirect, discrimination by association, discrimination by perception, harassment, and victimisation.

Direct discrimination is perhaps the form that most people are familiar with, which means when someone with a protected characteristic (such as someone with a disability) is being treated less favourably than others. An example of this would be not hiring someone because of his or her age or, being let go from your job because you are pregnant.


Maternity discrimination

In June this year, The Equality and Human Rights Commission published a research report on the prevalence and nature of pregnancy discrimination and disadvantage in the workplace. The research found that one-in-nine mothers reported that they were either dismissed, made redundant where others in their workplace were not, or treated so poorly they felt they had to leave their job.

Another common form of maternity discrimination is preventing women from, or treating women unfavourably for, breastfeeding (which is perfectly legal). It is in fact illegal for anybody to ask a woman who is breastfeeding to leave a public place – this includes the bus, the park bench, and the little café on the corner of your street.

Around 80% of women have children, which means that around 41% of people in the UK may be affected by discrimination. So what can you do to help prevent it?

The most important first step within any organisation is to ensure that you and all your staff have up-to-date equality and diversity training. Not only will training help promote diversity and challenge any unconscious bias, but it will also give everyone within your organisation a better understanding of what the Equality Act 2010 actually says.


The Equality Act 2010

It’s important that staff know their rights as an employee and that you know what is required by you as an employer.

The Equality Act 2010 covers two key areas: providing people with a means of raising complaints of discrimination around employment, and what organisations must do to address institutional discrimination.

The Act also protects people from discrimination based on protected characteristics. These are:

  • Disability
  • Gender reassignment
  • Race
  • Religion and beliefs
  • Sex
  • Sexual orientation
  • Age
  • Marriage and civil partnership, and of course…
  • Pregnancy and maternity.


If you want to update your staff’s equality and diversity training, why not sign up today. Get up to 50% off when you purchase an annual subscription.

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