I have just been advised that my annual bonus amount has been reduced due to my absence record which is related to pregnancy-related illness. Our bonus is rewarded based on grading and I received the highest grading and achieved my annual objectives despite this sickness. It is company policy to reduce bonuses based on an employee’s Bradford factor score [a way of measuring worker absenteeism which is based on the idea that short, frequent and unplanned absences are more disruptive than longer absences]. However, on my return to work form my score was recorded as being irrelevant due to the absence being pregnancy-related. Now they have reduced my bonus due to this reason. Is this discrimination? Can I make them pay my full bonus to me? Your advice would be appreciated.
This is a difficult question to which there is no clear answer.
Unfavourable treatment because of pregnancy-related illness is unlawful discrimination. However, this does not mean that an employer has to pay an absent employee in full when they would not otherwise pay sick pay (either because they do not pay contractual sick pay at all, or the employee has exhausted their sick pay entitlement).
I am not aware of any cases specifically dealing with reductions in bonuses but by analogy, if an employer reducing pay because of pregnancy-related illness is lawful, reducing a bonus in this way is also likely to be lawful provided that the same rules are applied as to other employees who have been absent with sickness (as appears to be the case).