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I have been employed for nearly two years and was interviewed for a promotion in March. I was informed soon after that I was successful. I went on maternity leave a few weeks later. HR advised me before that that all checks had been undertaken and all was fine and they would inform the recruiting manager. I contacted the recruiting manager by e-mail who has stated that the start date for the new contract will be the day I return from Maternity Leave.
Is this legal?
(a) they would normally start staff within one month; yet he is trying to tie it back to my completion of Maternity Leave;
(b) it does not change my pay whilst I am off, but would on my return, I would miss out on a scale point. My pay should increase on 1 April 2018 as long as I have been working at the scale prior to 01/10/2017…so this could be viewed as deliberately holding my pay down;
(c) it would affect my pay for any keeping in contact days that I can have whilst on maternity leave;
(d) I consider this discrimination because if I was not on Maternity Leave I would be offered a start date no later than 1 June 2017
(e) The lady at HR apologised for the delay, saying it should not have taken so long as I was an internal appointment, but I have no objections to the pay not being bumped up a little for the time before I went on leave, but it seems unjust to wait until I am back.
Under the Equality Act 2010, it is unlawful to discriminate against a woman by treating her less favourably as a result of her pregnancy and/or the fact that she is taking maternity leave.
You state you were offered and accepted a job promotion during your pregnancy and have subsequently been informed that your new contract of employment will not officially begin until you return to work from maternity leave. This has come as a surprise to you as the general policy in your place of employment tends to be that members of staff start their new employment within one month of their appointment to the role. In your case, you believe your new contract of employment should have begun no later than the 1st June 2017. In my view, you have a very good argument that you have been subjected to discrimination on the basis of your pregnancy/maternity leave as but for you taking maternity leave, your promotion would have taken affect at an earlier date.
You have indicated that the effect of the delayed start date will place limitations on your future pay progression that you would have otherwise received if you had not been going on maternity leave. It may also be the case that new or enhanced benefits (for example life cover or private health care) may accompany your promotion. If you are denied access to these enhanced benefits because of the delay in your promotion, this would be further evidence of unfavourable treatment and financial detriment.
It is unclear from the contents of your email as to whether your employer has provided any explanation as to why there has been a delayed start date. If no explanation has been provided, I would recommend that you seek clarification of this in writing. If the matter is not resolved informally, you could pursue a formal grievance in accordance with employer’s grievance procedure. You could also pursue a claim in the Employment Tribunal but please note there is a very strict time limit for pursuing such a claims, namely 3 months from the date of the discriminatory act complained of.