Have you recently disclosed to your employer that you are pregnant and your employer’s reaction has sadly, been negative? If so, you may have a claim for pregnancy discrimination.
What Is Pregnancy Discrimination?
When you become pregnant you enter what’s called the ‘Protected Period’ at work. It starts and it applies throughout your pregnancy until the end of your maternity leave, i.e., up to 52 weeks or until you return to work, if sooner. Whilst you are in the Protected Period, it is unlawful to discrimination against you because of your pregnancy or because of a pregnancy-related illness. If you are treated less favourably on these grounds it would represent Pregnancy Discrimination.
What Would Be Considered Less Favourable Treatment Because Of Pregnancy?
There can be various examples of pregnancy-related discrimination and below is only a handful of examples to illustrate what less favourable treatment could be:
- If you are pregnant and you applied for a promotion at work. You are clearly qualified for the role, and you have good experience. However, your employer decides not to promote you despite you being the best candidate for the role.
- If you previously put yourself forward for overtime which used to be accepted, however, since announcing your pregnancy your employer does not offer you any overtime.
- You may experience a removal of some of your job responsibilities without any reasonable explanation as to why this is necessary.
What Should You Do If You Suspect You Are Being Treated Less Favourably?
Unfortunately, whilst pregnancy should be an exciting period of your life sometimes external factors serve to dampen your experience. If you are experiencing less favourable treatment because of your pregnancy, it is important for you to formally raise this with your employer as soon as possible. This will not only protect you, but it also aids a potential Pregnancy Discrimination claim in the Employment Tribunal.
The most appropriate way to report your concerns would be to submit a Formal Grievance. A Formal Grievance is an employee-led concern which is submitted in writing. You may find that the company have an internal Formal Grievance procedure but, at the very least, they should adhere to the ACAS Code on Disciplinaries and Grievances 2009 which sets out several steps a reasonable employer should follow when an employee submits a Formal Grievance.
In your Formal Grievance you could highlight some of the following:
- Your employment history with the company.
- The date you announced your pregnancy to the company and if the response was negative make sure you set out exactly what was said.
- Any examples of how you have been treated differently and that you believe the treatment is less favourable because of your pregnancy.
- Make sure you provide the date/time of each act of less favourable treatment.
- Anything else which you feel may be relevant.
In addition to submitting a Formal Grievance you may also decide to commence Employment Tribunal proceedings against the company.
When To Seek Legal Advice?
I would recommend you obtain legal advice as soon as possible. Firstly, you may find that the company continue to act unreasonably and so it is best to address your concerns as soon as possible. Secondly, there are very strict employment law time limits to submit your claim in time. If you miss the time limit, your claim will automatically fail.
In essence, you have three months (less one day) from the last act of pregnancy discrimination to start the Employment Tribunal process. The action you would take to start the Employment Tribunal process would be by way of ACAS Early Conciliation. ACAS Early Conciliation is a compulsory process that all potential claimants to the Employment Tribunal must go through. It may be possible to settle your claim during ACAS Early Conciliation. However, if this is not the case ACAS would issue an Early Conciliation Certificate. You would then have one month from the date of that Certificate to submit your claim to the Employment Tribunal quoting the certificate number on your Claim Form.
Please note, Employment Tribunal time limits can be complicated, and it is recommended you obtain professional legal advice as soon as possible, so that the correct time limit is calculated.
How Can Lincs Law Employment Solicitors Help You?
We regularly advise employees who are experiencing less favourable treatment because of their pregnancy, or pregnancy-related illness. We would be delighted to have a free (no obligation) discussion with you to understand what is happening in your workplace and what we can do to help you. Just call 01522 440512. Alternatively, for more information visit our website at https://lincslaw.co.uk/…/pregnancy-and-maternity…/