Is it legal for a bonus to penalise pregnancy-related sickness?

I returned from work after having my second child. When we return to work if you work three full months without any sickness absence you get six weeks pay. However, when I returned to work I was 19 weeks pregnant and after my 21-week scan I had to go off with a pregnancy-related sickness. It was very stressful and I was not allowed to return to work until the baby was born. We also get a two-week bonus at Christmas again if you have no sick leave. I lost both these bonuses. However, I was recently renewing my mortgage and came across these payslips. I feel that I have been treated unfavourably at this vulnerable time in my life and wasn’t aware you could be penalised in relation to a pregnancy-related illness. The bonuses are not performance-related and sorely depend on absenteeism. I would love to hear if you thought it would be worth my while querying the return to work bonus with my employer.

Pregnant woman sitting on a sofa looking stressed and upset


You would need to check and see if there is anything in your contract to see if the return to work bonus is contractual or discretionary, If there is nothing in your contract then you might want to see if there is any policy or document on bonus (including the maternity policy), or ask your manager where it specifically says that sickness will have an impact on bonus. I would advise that you check what the bonus payments are based on – are they based on you returning to work for three months or are they based on not having any time off sick during the first three months? Why is the bonus given?

Also if you were not off for the whole eligibility period you might be eligible for part of the bonus for the time you were at work, although it will all depend on if the bonus is contractual or discretionary, what the policy says and the reason why she is given a bonus.

Bonus and maternity leave is complex as there are so many different types of bonus.

If you are entitled to payment under the policies and this is not forthcoming, you may be able to submit a claim to the Employment Tribunal for unlawful deduction from wages and unlawful detriment.

Please note that if you wish to bring any claim at the employment tribunal for discrimination / unlawful deduction from wages, you will only have three months from the date of the discriminatory act to bring a claim.

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