Pregnancy And Maternity Discrimination Claims

Under the Equality Act 2010, pregnancy and maternity discrimination is now a protected characteristic in its own right. There are 2 types of pregnancy and maternity discrimination: direct discrimination and victimisation. Should you have a potential claim, then please contact one of our specialist pregnancy and maternity discrimination solicitors immediately by telephoning us on 0333 301 0700, or by completing the questionnaire opposite.

Pregnancy And Maternity Discrimination

The Equality Act 2010 provides that discrimination in relation to pregnancy and maternity discrimination is illegal during a "protected period". The protected period runs from the point at which the employee becomes pregnant until her maternity leave ends, or she returns to work if that occurs earlier. If the employee is not entitled to maternity leave, then the protected period ends 2 weeks after the employee gives birth.

Direct Discrimination

Direct discrimination is where the employees suffers less favourable treatment due to her pregnancy, or her pregnancy related illness, or the fact that she has given birth recently, or due to her maternity leave, or because of her breastfeeding. Discrimination would constitute automatic discrimination. Hence, there is no need to point to a comparator to highlight the unfavourable treatment. Nevertheless, direct discrimination in the context of pregnancy and maternity, does not include discrimination by association or discrimination by perception. Should the employee suffer unfavourable treatment outside of the protected period due to her pregnancy and maternity, then they may still potentially be able to bring a claim for sex discrimination.


Victimisation is where an employee is treated unfavourably because they either have done, or are about to do, or are suspected of engaging in a "protected act" as regards their rights under the Equality Act 2010. A protected act is where the employee brings or helps another to bring a claim or complaint of discrimination, or makes an allegation that there has been a breach of the Equality Act 2010, or does anything else as regards the said Act.

Pregnancy And Maternity Discrimination Solicitors: Bringing A Claim

A tribunal claim must be made within three months of the discriminatory act (or last discriminatory act) complained of. Unlike in unfair dismissal claims, employees do not have to have had at least 2 years continuous service with the employer to be entitled to bring the claim. Should the employees claim be successful, the tribunal can make recommendations and award compensation. Should the employer fail to comply with recommendations made by the tribunal for action to reduce discrimination without reasonable justification, the tribunal can award additional compensation on top of what it may have already awarded. Furthermore, for claims brought from October 2010 onwards, Tribunals can now demand that employers implement changes to prevent further discrimination taking place. Compensation awards in discrimination cases are unlimited and unlike in unfair dismissal cases, there is no such thing as a 'basic' or 'compensatory' award. Instead, the award normally comprises the following:
  • Injury to Feelings: Comprise separate awards for hurt feelings, aggravated damages, and injury to health. The criteria for assessing compensation for hurt feelings were set out by the Court of Appeal in the case of Vento v Chief Constable of West Yorkshire (No.2) (2003), as subsequently amended, the most recent amendments being made by presidential guidance in September 2017 following the Court of Appeal decision in De Souza v Vinci Construction (UK) Ltd (2017). As a result of this, there is a top band of £42,000.00+ for exceptionally serious cases (£33,000.00+ for cases presented before the 11th September 2017), an upper band of £25,200.00 - £42,000.00 for serious cases (£19,800.00 - £33,000.00 for cases presented before the 11th September 2017), a middle band of between £8,400.00 - £25,200.00 (£6,600.00 - £19,800.00 for cases presented before the 11th September 2017), and a lower band of between £800.00 - £8,400.00 for less serious and one-off cases (£660.00 - £6,600.00 for cases presented before the 11th September 2017). The Court in Vento stated that awards for less than the lower band should be avoided. An injury to health claim can be pursued, but should there be a separate award for it, the tribunal has to ensure that there is no element of duplication. Finally, aggravated damages can also be awarded, although awards for this element do not usually exceed £5,000.00 and are only awarded should the employers conduct have been especially cruel and malicious.
  • Loss of Earnings: Normally makes up the bulk of the claim and includes both actual and future loss of earnings. Future loss can be extensive where psychiatric injury has been sustained as a result of the discrimination and makes it difficult for the employee to obtain new and appropriate employment.
  • Injury to Health (Personal Injury): Is most commonly for psychiatric injury. Nevertheless, where a claim for personal injury is included, the employee loses the right to bring a claim in the civil courts for it.
  • Ancillary Losses: These can be for items such as the cost of looking for alternative employment and pension loss.
  • Interest: Interest on the compensation award can be claimed

What To Do If You Have A Claim

Should you require advice on pregnancy and maternity discrimination, then please do not hesitate to contact one of our specialist pregnancy and maternity discrimination solicitors. We can be contacted either by telephoning 0333 3010 700, or by completing the questionnaire on the right hand side of this page.

As specialist pregnancy and maternity discrimination solicitors, you can rely upon us to provide you with quality advice from a leading employment law solicitor within the profession.

Please note that our specialist pregnancy and maternity discrimination solicitors offer a free initial consultation.

Settlement Agreements

Should you have been offered a Settlement Agreement (which used to be known as Compromise Agreements) which you require independent advice on, then please call one of our employment law solicitors immediately on 0333 3010 700, or complete the questionnaire on the right hand side of this page. We will then arrange an appointment with you to go through the Settlement Agreement.