Read our blog about Maternity Discrimination
Pregnancy/Maternity Discrimination is covered under the Equality Act
If an employee is going through a difficult time, work with them
If you dismiss someone because they are pregnant, it’s automatic unfair dismissal
As part of our series about inclusion, diversity and discrimination, we asked for some real life stories and some of you very kindly shared some very personal and emotional moments with us.
Identity has been protected in the following story as the contributor asked to remain anonymous, but we’re sure you’ll agree its an example of what not do as an employer:
“Whilst employed in a senior role, I unfortunately suffered several miscarriages and with each one I needed to take a week off to recover. After this I noticed I was getting left out of important meetings and decisions were being made without my input.
I’d been acting in a managerial capacity for the previous few months and never received any of my promised bonuses or job reviews.
Happily, I finally announced a successful pregnancy and then a job ad was placed for the managerial role without any discussion with me – you can imaging the office gossip and how stupid I felt.
The position was eventually given to an older man and when I asked why I was told it was because I was a young girl (I was 30 at the time!). This man then proceeded to rely on me to tell him everything about his job and slowly took my tasks off me. He started meeting with other organisations that could do my role and despite winning an award for my work, at 16 weeks pregnant they tried to make me redundant and my work was to be outsourced to an agency. I was the only person out of nearly 100 employees that they were considering making redundant and was basically told that I’d made the company so good, they didn’t need me any more.
A combination of the way I was treated and pregnancy hormones left me with no self confidence and seriously doubting myself. I was going through such a tough time and it was obvious to everyone what was going on, in the end I walked away because I didn’t want the stress – they knew I would and felt safe to push me out.
This story does have a happy ending though, as I now run my own successful freelance business.
If I had to advise a business owner or manager how to deal with this situation for one of their employees, I’d say show some interest in what your employee is going through, hold a return to work meeting and make sure they are OK and are fit to be in work, offer support where you can. If your employee deserves a promotion or progression, never let the fact they’re trying for a baby get in the way of this – it shouldn’t matter.”
We’re so grateful that this person’s story had a happy ending for them – both personally and professionally, but if you have an employee with a similar story, please don’t ignore them – communicate! Find out how you can help, work with them to make any changes they might need to working arrangements (remember everyone is legally entitled to request flexible working after 26 weeks’ service), and remember that pregnancy and maternity discrimination is an absolute no-no – you don’t even need to have the required 2 years’ service to take an employer to tribunal if they’ve dismissed you as a direct result of your pregnancy or maternity status – it’s classed as automatic unfair dismissal.
Do you have questions about discrimination?
Give us a call at CUBE HR, we’ll be happy to advise you and we have policies and templates available to meet every HR need.
Why not check out our other blog on the same topic Equality in the Workplace – 3 Things You Need to Know
You can also watch a range of other videos on our YouTube channel