Employers have a duty to respect and protect all employees, but increasingly, cases of pregnancy and maternity discrimination are being heard, with Citizens Advice reporting a 25% growth over the last financial year.
Yunus Lunat, head of employment law, states that more individuals are coming forward after researching the fact their employer should not able to proceed with dismissals and redundancies, by law, unless the correct procedure is undertaken.
However, employment law expert Mr Lunat claims that many employees are still too scared to come forward and deal with a situation that is already proving stressful. Once on maternity leave and post-pregnancy, there are some individuals who do not need the added stress of taking an employment issue further.
He said: “Many women are prepared to ignore their unfair dismissal or redundancy due to their pregnancy and it is only when they stop to think ‘this isn’t right’ that something gets done about it. As a law firm, we are in the process of handling a number of maternity cases with the claimants enquiring if they have a case to pursue.”
Mr Lunat also noted that there are a number of paternity cases also coming to light, where employers are discriminating against dads-to-be with their paternity leave allowance / return to work.
Ison Harrison has recently achieved notable outcomes for two maternity discrimination cases, resulting in six figure compensation being recovered for the claimants.
Pregnancy and maternity discrimination can be brought under the Equality Act 2010 in an employment tribunal, but the person must be able to prove they have suffered a detriment, ie. working conditions are different, pay/hours are reduced or they have lost out on a promotion or been dismissed.