How to Minimise the Risks of Pregnancy Discrimination in your Organisation

How to Minimise the Risks of Pregnancy Discrimination in your Organisation

  • Date: Friday 16th August 2019

This month we look at how to minimise the risk of pregnancy discrimination within your organisation as getting it wrong can be highly costly in terms of time, money, resources, reputation and employee morale.

It is important that employers avoid any form of negative comment, actions or behaviours towards a pregnant worker or new mother.  Employers must ensure that any decision to reassign a pregnant worker due to health and safety concerns must be done in agreement with the employee.  Employers are also required to provide reasonable breast-feeding facilities and they should not refuse to hire an employee due to her being pregnant or a new mother.

Things employers should not do...

1. Make assumptions about a pregnant worker’s job capabilities or commitment

Avoid treating pregnant women differently to other team members based on stereotypes about their ability or inability to work and perform their jobs and assumptions about their job capabilities or commitment. 

2. Deny leave or force leave

Be aware that choosing to take holiday during or after pregnancy is the decision of the employee only. 

3. Take negative action against a pregnant employee

Taking negative action against an employee such as termination, demotion or a forcing a change in job duties because of an employee is pregnant is likely to be in breach of the Equality Act 2010.

4. Fail to provide reasonable pregnancy related adjustments

Employers should take all requests for pregnancy related adjustments seriously both to protect the employee and also to reduce the risk of claims.  Employers should consider providing the same light-duty work to pregnant employees as they would to employees who have restrictions due to ill health.

5. Fail to hire or deny a promotion opportunity to a new mother or pregnant employee

As covered in detail in the first article of this e-bulletin, employers should not reject a job applicant or deny an internal candidate the opportunity for promotion on the basis that she is a new mother or pregnant.

Looking ahead the Government has set out plans to extend protection for new and expectant mothers in regard to redundancy.

Employees on maternity leave currently have special protection in a redundancy situation.  But the Government’s reforms will extend redundancy protection from the point the employee informs her employer that she is pregnant until six months from the date of her return to work. 

The legislation will also provide the protection to those taking adoption and shared parental leave for six months from their return to work. 

Source: Gavin Parrott

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