ACAS published new guidance last week to help tackle the problem of pregnancy and maternity discrimination. The new guidance comes in response to a sharp increase in calls for advice in this area. In 2016, ACAS received 14,000 calls to their service on pregnancy and maternity discrimination, a 10% increase on the previous year (Acas, 2017).
"It's all really about trying to change the employer's mindset and get them to understand what they have to do to comply with the law and treat their employees in a fair way," says Acas employment expert David Webb (Sky, 2017).
Employers who do not follow the new guidance and treat women fairly could find themselves facing an employment tribunal.
What is pregnancy and maternity discrimination?
The Equality Act protects employees from certain types of discrimination relating to the protected characteristic of pregnancy and maternity. The characteristic covers a woman from when she becomes pregnant until her maternity leave ends, she returns to work or opts to leave employment. During that time (known as the protected period) she is protected against discrimination because:
of her pregnancy
of any illness related to her pregnancy, or absence because of that illness
she is seeking to take, taking or taken maternity pay and/or leave
the employer does not want her to return to work because she is breastfeeding
The new guidance includes making sure women know about promotion opportunities while they are on maternity leave as well as covering areas such as not including pregnancy related absences on an employee’s records.
Common areas of employment where pregnancy and maternity discrimination can occur include:
Pay and terms and conditions of employment
Job vacancies and promotion opportunities
Managing absence during pregnancy
Selection for redundancy
Returning to work
What can Rivero HR do to help your business?
Managers and HR personnel should make sure they understand what pregnancy and maternity discrimination is and how it can happen, their employees rights and responsibilities, review their own policies on maternity, paternity and for preventing discrimination and how to handle an employee’s notification of pregnancy.
Rivero HR can support you by reviewing your current policies, offer training to managers in dealing with pregnancy and maternity issues and claims. Please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.