• International Workplace
  • 5 December 2017

New guidance to prevent pregnancy and maternity discrimination at work

New guidance to help employers create supportive workplaces for women during pregnancy and maternity leave has been published by ACAS.

The employee relations and employment law advisor received more than 14,000 calls last year about pregnancy and maternity issues, an increase of almost 10% on the previous year.

The new guidance offers employers advice on how to comply with the Equalities Act, which protects employees against pregnancy and maternity discrimination. It includes:

  • employees on maternity leave should be made aware of opportunities for promotion and training;
  • pregnancy-related absences must not be included in an employee's absence record; and
  • employees must not be dismissed or made redundant for any issue related to pregnancy or maternity leave or maternity pay.

The guidance also recommends that employers:

  • develop a policy so that all employees understand their rights and responsibilities in relation to pregnancy and maternity discrimination;
  • provide a suitable place for pregnant employees to rest in line with the law; and
  • identify and deal with risks to health and safety of a pregnant employee and their unborn child.

ACAS Head of Diversity and Inclusion, Julie Dennis, said:

"It's fantastic that pregnancy and maternity discrimination is protected by the law but calls to our helpline show that this is still an issue.

"Women should not suffer any unfair treatment while pregnant or on maternity leave and most employers treat their employees fairly. But those that don't could find themselves at an Employment Tribunal. This new guidance can help managers deal fairly with women at work in areas such as recruitment, promotion and redundancy."

The new guidance can be viewed at Pregnancy and maternity discrimination.