Top tips to avoid pregnancy and maternity discrimination in your company

4th January 2018

Acas (Advistory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service) has revealed that calls regarding pregnancy and maternity discrimination in the workplace rose by 10% to over 14,000 in 2016. This confirms that sadly, despite it being written into law, unfair treatment towards women relating to their pregnancy  and/or motherhood is still very much an issue in our society.

As stated by the government, pregnant employees have 4 core legal rights; paid time off for antenatal care, maternity leave, maternity pay/allowance and protection against unfair treatment, discrimination or dismissal.

Things to consider:

  • ‘Antenatal care’ encompasses antenatal and parenting classes as well as medical appointments. In fact, it encompasses anything recommended by a doctor or midwife.
  • As the employer, you are breaching contract if you change a pregnant employee’s contract without agreement.
  • Pregnant women must receive their normal pay during time taken off for antenatal care. Their partner has the right to unpaid time off to attend two appointments.
  • As the employer, you must carry out risk assessment to the employee and the baby. This includes things such as heavy lifting, standing for long periods, exposure to toxins and working long hours. It is your duty to make reasonable steps to remove risks

As well as abiding by the law, companies can and should wherever possible go above and beyond for expectant and new mothers. This is vital not just to remain lawful, but also to create a positive working environment, build a good reputation for the business and ultimately, to attract and retain staff.

Going above and beyond can include the following:

  1. Allowing flexible working so that new and expectant mothers can spend time working from home if this allows them to more easily attend appointment or rest if they need to
  2. Reaffirming your support in the form of regular meetings to ensure that the employee is happy and has everything that they need from you. This also gives them an accessible platform should they have any issues or queries – it is best to be aware of these and to be able to address and resolve them as quickly as possible
  3. Continuing to offer training opportunities during the pregnancy. This will put their mind at ease that they are still seen as an important and valuable member of the company. Sadly, many are not made to feel this way
  4. Adopting comprehensive HR software, such as IRIS FMP Amity, to make it easier for employers and employees to manage all of the above

If you’re there for your employees they will be there for you; go above and beyond for them and they will go above and beyond for you. Life milestones like parenthood should be celebrated and supported to ensure staff are as happy, healthy and hardworking as possible.

Download our guide to IRIS FMP Amity here.