Pregnancy and Maternity
The law covering discrimination on the grounds of pregnancy and maternity is largely unchanged by the Equality Act 2010. It remains unlawful to exclude a job applicant on the grounds of pregnancy or maternity and to remove opportunities for training, promotion or other workplace benefits (unless there are clear and demonstrable health and safety issues).
However, female employees now have added protection during and shortly after the pregnancy term – referred to as the ‘protected period’. This means that when an employer is addressing time away from work relating to pregnancy, they don’t have to make a comparison with how other staff members would be treated.
For example, Lydia is pregnant and works at a call centre. The manager knows Lydia is pregnant but still disciplines her for taking too many toilet breaks as the manager would for any other member of staff. This is discrimination because of pregnancy and maternity as this characteristic doesn’t require the normal comparison of treatment with other employees.