Pregnancy and maternity

Q&As

Pregnancy and maternity

Last year I suffered a miscarriage at 27 weeks. I work in a nursery and when I returned to work my Manager was very unsympathetic and gave me the job of moving around heavy outdoor equipment by myself. When I complained and said I was being treated unfairly, I was told that miscarriage was not an illness. I am now pregnant again and fear telling my Manager because of her previous reaction.

This does sound like unfair and possibly unlawful treatment. The Equality Act (2010) protects female service users and employees from direct discrimination and victimisation during pregnancy and their maternity period. The protected period, in relation to a woman’s pregnancy, starts when the pregnancy begins, and ends. Maternity refers to the period of 26 weeks after the birth, which reflects the period of ordinary maternity leave entitlement. A woman is still protected by law if her baby is stillborn, as long as the pregnancy has lasted for 24 weeks before she gave birth.

Your employer must ensure that during and after your pregnancy you are not treated less favourably and discriminated against during this time. This includes being demoted, dismissed or disciplined because of reasons related to your pregnancy or maternity status.

For more information about your rights and your employer’s duties during pregnancy and maternity please refer to this leaflet on Pregnancy and Work by the Department for Business Innovation and Skills