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Pregnant women still facing the bump at work

According to the Fawcett Society, 30,000 women a year lose their jobs because of Pregnancy or Maternity Discrimination. In my experience, this is probably just the tip of the iceberg as many women decide not to speak up at a time when they are very tired and emotionally vulnerable. This is not a new problem, but a serious problem it remains nonetheless.  It is unlawful for a pregnant woman or a woman taking maternity leave to be treated unfavourably. This means, for example, that you cannot be sacked, passed over for promotion, excluded from consultations, not given training and so on because you are pregnant or on maternity leave. You are also entitled to receive the same pay increase that you would have received had you not been on maternity leave. The biggest issue facing pregnant women and those on maternity leave, particularly during an economic downturn, is that they are often the first to be selected for Redundancy. This again is unlawful if you have been selected for redundancy because you are pregnant or on maternity leave. If your position is genuinely redundant, then your employer can lawfully dismiss you. However, pregnant women and those on maternity leave are afforded special treatment in a Redundancy situation as they are entitled to first dibs (ahead of any of their non-pregnant colleagues) on a suitable alternative role to avoid redundancy. The new job has to be "suitable" - so bearing in mind qualifications, experience, location as examples of factors that might be relevant when considering if a job is suitable.Any woman who suspects that her employer is treating her badly because she is/was pregnant or absent on maternity leave should raise a Grievance and submit a Discrimination questionnaire to obtain further information.By Kiran Daurka, Employment Law Expert

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