New data released this week reveals that cases of pregnancy discrimination in the workplace have almost doubled over the past five years.
The research, from compliance training specialist DeltaNet International, which looked at a range of cases of discrimination including employees suffering a detriment or unfair dismissal when pregnant, suggests there were 1,618 cases of pregnancy discrimination in 2019-20, up from 865 in 2015/16.
It also found there has been a 21% increase in unsuccessful cases of pregnancy and maternity discrimination at hearings year on year.
Under the Equality Act 2010, a UK employer cannot discriminate against an employee because they are pregnant, breastfeeding, or have recently given birth. If an employee suffers a disadvantage as a result of unfair treatment, they can lodge a complaint with the tribunal system for free.
With a transgender man recently filing a pregnancy discrimination suit against Amazon, the study uncovered the increasing causes of pregnancy and maternity discrimination in the UK through the analysis of recent Ministry of Justice (MOJ) data which found:
- 87% increase in reports of pregnant or maternal employees suffering a detriment or unfair dismissal in the past five years.
- 21% increase in unsuccessful hearings for pregnancy and maternity discrimination cases year on year.
- 20% decline in successful hearings for pregnancy and maternity discrimination in the workplace over the past five years.
Jayne Harrison, Head of Employment Law at Richard Nelson LLP said:
“It has become far more accessible for employees to lodge pregnancy and maternity orientation discrimination cases. Tribunal fees were abolished on 26 July 2017 and since then tribunals have seen an increase year on year with claims being lodged as now employees experiencing pregnancy discrimination can use the tribunal system without it costing them anything.
“Previously the fees were around £1200 for an unfair dismissal case but much less (£390) for a wages claim/unlawful deduction. This seemed to act as a bar to potential litigants and one of the main reasons why the fees were abolished when they were challenged by the unions.”
Darren Hockley, MD at DeltaNet International, comments:
“As the data reveals, the best method of avoiding employment tribunals is to treat all staff with fairness, dignity, and respect – and to follow clearly laid-out procedures.
“As employers, it’s important we offer training to those we trust in managerial positions on the basic requirements of employment law. Managers should know how to handle pregnancy and maternity orientation discrimination grievances respectfully and transparently and should be regularly updated about the businesses’ statutory and contractual requirements.
“Without this knowledge, it’s hard for staff members to remain fair and consistent, and this is when many organisations may find themselves in hot water.”
The full data can be found here.