Suspected pregnancy discrimination: ask the expert

I became pregnant in April and since telling my boss have experience harassment. Last week I was given a sudden (written) redundancy and told that a full-time post was no longer required. I was offered part-time work. I am off sick with stress. Will this affect my maternity pay?
Unfortunately, the rules governing statutory maternity pay (SMP) are fairly complex, but to qualify for SMP you need to be employed for 26 weeks as at the 15th week before the expected week of childbirth. Secondly, between the 23rd week and 15th week before the expected week of childbirth, you need to have average weekly earnings equivalent to the lower earnings limit for national insurance contributions (currently £90). If you are receiving Statutory Sick Pay for these weeks, this will only be paid at a rate of £75.40, so will be below the lower limit. However, even if you do not qualify for SMP, you may still qualify for Maternity Allowance – this is paid at a similar rate.
In relation to your employment generally, it does sound like you may have been treated less favourably because you are pregnant. This could give rise to possible claims in the employment tribunal, including sex discrimination.
As your situation is complicated, I would strongly advise that you seek legal advice as soon as possible.
This gives a general overview only, based on the information available at the time of writing. It cannot be relied upon in any particular case. Specific legal advice must always be considered to include consideration as to whether the legal position contained has changed since publication. For further information and advice, please contact Lemon&Co Solicitors on 01793 527141 or visit their website: www.lemon-co.co.uk.
Helen Climance is a solicitor and part of a team of four employment law specialists at Lemon&Co Solicitors,a leading full service law practice based in the centre of Swindon and has been practising employment law since 2002 and has extensive experience of advising employees and employers at all levels. She has successfully brought claims to the employment tribunal and she regularly runs seminars in her field. Away from work, Helen has two children aged seven and four.



Comments [13]

  • D says:

    I have worked in my job 5 and a half months i am 14 weeks pregnant, i told my manager at work as i had morning sickness in the office but asked her to keep it quiet until after my 12 week scan then i would tell my boss! A couple of days later my boss was asking if i was pregnant so she obviously told him, i did deny it as i wanted to be sure everything was ok due to a miscarriage the year before. Anyway i was actually at my 12 week scan and my boss had left me a voice mail while i was in hospital having the scan saying they no longer needed me as they were restructuring! The first i had heard and then i found out he had asked someone else in the office to do a few hours for him and he would pay them cash in the bank! So basically it was my job they was doing just less hours! I am so upset i really got on with my boss but he has not spoken to me since giving me the boot! Can i take this further as i really feel like they have got rid of me because of my pregnancy?

  • Claire Sutherland says:

    Hi I’m 19 weeks pregnant and work in a school kitchen. We have been short staffed without relief so am doing more work which includes alot of lifting and hardly get a chance to sit down or get a drink. I asked to see a risk assessment and was sent one by email which was appalling. No one had sat down with me to discuss any hazards in the workplace and with the extra work it’s taking a strain on my back. What should I do?

  • Aggie says:

    Hi. I am 20 weeks pregnant and I’ve lost my job last night. I been working there only for 11 weeks. Last month i gave my boss not from my doctor that i cant lift pull push etc etc. I decided tell my manager something and ask what they gonna do now. After work my agency rsng me and said I am not coming back. Like i said before i am 20 weeks pregnant but i been working only for 16 week being pregnant. I am not gonna find any other job now because i think is too late. Do i get any MA? I am not single parent but my bf working only for minimum wage 6.7 per hour and working 40 hours per week

  • Anonymous says:

    I am working as a teaching assistant in a state school on a temporary rolling contract. I have been in post one year this April. My Edd is 24 August so will not need to leave until the start of the summer holidays by which time i would have been in post 15 months. I have been told that there is unlikely to be a job for me when I want to return What will I be entitled to ? How do i write my letter informing them I am pregnant. I really feel they are only saying there is no post available because I am pregnant. Up until now I have been told I ma invaluable in the workplace

    Editor: I am unclear. Have you told them unofficially you are pregnant and you are now writing to officially let them know? I would question why there is likely not to be any vacancy when you return, given that your contract is a rolling one, and get them to spell it out. Is it a yearly contract?

  • Anonymous says:

    Hi, im 19weeks pregnant and i lost my job today from my attendance being poor, only because ive had a bad pregnancy. Will i qualify for maternity allowance or not cause ive only been working there for 20weeks.

    Editor: Do you have doctor's notes to back up your pregnancy-related illness? This sounds like it could be pregnacy discrimination. You may qualify for MA if you have worked for 26 weeks in the 66 weeks leading up to your baby's due date and earned at least an average of £30 in any 13-week period during those 66 weeks. You can claim this from your local JobCentre Plus.

  • Anonymous says:

    Hi,

    I have just rang my boss telling her I will be back to work at the beginning of August. I have been on maternity leave since late jan so my mate leave is no were near up. Anyway I rang and told them I'll be back begging on August my reply way 'are you sure you definietly are because your contract runs out end of August so we then decide if to keep you on or not?' Are they allowed to do this?

    Editor: Can you explain a bit more about your contract? They cannot not continue your contract due to maternity leave as this would constitute discrimination. Have they given you any possible reasons why your contract might not be renewed? Have you been on a rolling contract before this?

  • Anonymous says:

    hi i am 4 weeks pregnent have been a temp at my work place for 5 weeks will i on the 26th week be able to claim anything in future once i get closer to my due date?

    Editor: If you got pregnant just before you started and are still in position by the 26th week and earn at least £109 a week for the eight weeks leading up to the 26th week of your pregnancy you should qualify for SMP.

  • Anonymous says:

    Hi. I have been employed with my company for 1 year 3 months. I actually resigned for personal reasons just before christmas of 2013 this was 1 week before I found out I was pregnant. I asked for my job back because I knew I wouldn't be ale to find other work. I haven't stopped working there since. I was allowed my job back by verbal communication that a new contract would be drawn up where I would be classed as a temporary employee with a 2 month rolling contract. Since then (December) I have worked but haven't signed the contract. Am I entitled to the same rights if I was 'normally' employed. Thanks

    Editor: Do you mean in terms of maternity pay? You may not qualify for SMP due to resigning and being re-employed. You must be continuously employed by the same employer to qualify – see https://www.gov.uk/continuous-employment-what-it-is. You would need to check with Acas as indicated in this link.

  • Anonymous says:

    Hello,I was doing 33 hours a week and because of my pregnancy, I told my employers to add another day to my three days as I can't be doing 11 hours per day as its not good for my situation at that moment but they said they can't get another day for me as they have no day. So now because I'm in my 25th week i'm forced to sign for another contract as I don't want my maternity pay to be affected. I'm now doing 22hours, do you think I should have done that?

    Editor: Are you paid to do 11-hour days? It is unclear from what you say if you are doing unpaid overtime. If you just signed the new contract, your SMP will be based on your average weekly salary in the eight weeks leading up to your 26th week so should not be too much affected. It is unclear what work you do and why your employer could not accommodate another day. They should have done a health and safety assessment of you once they have been informed of your pregnancy and that includes taking into account if there are any risks caused by your hours – see http://www.hse.gov.uk/contact/faqs/pregnancy.htm.

  • Anonymous says:

    Hi. I am 20 weeks pregnant. I have been based at a centre for 2 years. The centre is close to my home and is convenient for me. After informing my manager of my pregnancy, she has decided to place me in another centre claiming that it will be beneficial for me as more people will be based there. However, where I was based previously there are at least 2 other members of staff there. Also, my journey to work is difficult at the new centre as it is further away from my home address. I have tried speaking to my manager and explaining why it is more beneficial for me to be based at my previous base in Shadwell. Do I have a right as a pregnant worker to 'fight' this due to increased stress of commuting to and from work?

    Editor: If she is changing your place at work because of your pregnancy you certainly have a right to be consulted and to put your points that you feel the change is potentially detrimental to your health. Your employer cannot change your place of work without your consent – see https://www.workingmums.co.uk/advice-and-support/all/2698136/possible-change-of-work-location-ask-the-expert.thtml

  • Anonymous says:

    Hi, I wonder if anyone can help me. I'm 12 weeks pregnant. I have been off work 6 weeks. I get £138 every two weeks ssp. Can I quit my job as I am so ill and tired to work? Thanks.

    Editor: You can resign at any point, but if you are not employed until the 26th week of your pregnancy you will not get SMP. You may be able to claim Maternity Allowance if you have worked for any 26 weeks in the 66 weeks leading up to your due date. However, you must be employed to qualify for SSP which you can receive for 28 weeks – see https://www.gov.uk/statutory-sick-pay/overview. If you are off sick and on SSP in the eight weeks leading up to the 26th week of your pregnancy your weekly earnings will be too low to qualify for SMP [the threshold is £109 a week] so you would have to apply for Maternity Allowance.


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