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Navigating Pregnancy and Maternity Discrimination: Understanding UK Law 

Pregnancy and maternity discrimination remain prevalent issues in workplaces across the United Kingdom, despite legal protections in place to prevent such practices. Understanding your rights as a pregnant employee or new mother is crucial to ensuring fair treatment in the workplace. In this blog, we’ll explore UK laws related to pregnancy and maternity discrimination and provide guidance on how to navigate these issues effectively. 

Legal Protections: In the UK, pregnant employees and new mothers are protected from discrimination under the Equality Act 2010. This legislation prohibits discrimination on the grounds of pregnancy, maternity leave, and breastfeeding. Employers are legally required to provide pregnant employees and new mothers with reasonable accommodations to ensure they are not disadvantaged in the workplace. 

Rights of Pregnant Employees: Pregnant employees are entitled to various rights and protections under UK law, including: 

  1. Protection from Discrimination: Employers cannot treat pregnant employees unfavorably because of their pregnancy or any related medical conditions. This includes unfair treatment in hiring, promotion, training, or dismissal. 
  1. Paid Time Off for Antenatal Appointments: Pregnant employees have the right to take paid time off for antenatal appointments, including medical examinations and classes recommended by a doctor or midwife. 
  1. Maternity Leave: Pregnant employees are entitled to take up to 52 weeks of maternity leave, consisting of 26 weeks of Ordinary Maternity Leave (OML) and 26 weeks of Additional Maternity Leave (AML). Statutory Maternity Pay (SMP) may be available for eligible employees during this time. 
  1. Returning to Work: Pregnant employees have the right to return to their job after maternity leave, or to a similar role with the same terms and conditions if their job no longer exists. 

Breastfeeding Rights: Breastfeeding mothers are also protected under UK law. Employers are required to provide suitable facilities for breastfeeding or expressing milk, such as a private room with access to a power supply and refrigerator for storing expressed milk. Breastfeeding employees have the right to take breaks to express milk during working hours, and employers cannot discriminate against them for breastfeeding or expressing milk at work. 

Seeking Legal Advice: If you believe you have experienced pregnancy or maternity discrimination in the workplace, it’s essential to seek legal advice promptly. An experienced employment lawyer can help you understand your rights, navigate the legal process, and advocate for fair treatment. 

If you have suffered pregnancy or maternity discrimination in the workplace, please do not hesitate to get in touch with us to have a confidential consultation about how we can help you. 

Swan Craig Solicitors are a locally trusted and thoroughly regulated law firm, housing qualified solicitors and experienced legal professionals well-versed in UK employment law. With the knowledge, training and expertise to advise you on issues with your employer or working environment, we are authorised and insured to give you legal guidance. With over 18 years of experience, our dedicated team are available at your convenience, so simply contact us today, on everything from disciplinaries to changes in contract. 

Our blogs and articles are prepared for general interest, and it is important to obtain professional advice on specific issues. Swan Craig believes the information contained in these blogs and articles to be correct at the time of publication. While all possible care is taken in the preparation of these blogs and articles, no responsibility or liability for loss occasioned by any person acting or refraining from acting as a result of the material contained herein can be accepted by Swan Craig, the author, or the publisher. 

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