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Pregnancy and maternity

The 2010 Equality Act made it illegal to discriminate against a person because they are pregnant or have just given birth.

Pregnancy is the condition of being pregnant or expecting a baby. Maternity refers to the period after the birth, and is linked to maternity leave in the employment context. In the non-work context, protection against maternity discrimination is for 26 weeks after giving birth, and this includes treating a woman unfavourably because she is breastfeeding.

We are working to eliminate discrimination against pregnant women and women who have just given birth, and valuing the contribution made by all citizens. For more information on pregnancy in Hackney see the Hackney profile.

Examples of discrimination faced by pregnant women and new parents

According to the Equal Opportunities Commission in 2015:

  • one fifth of the 6,000 women surveyed experienced some form of disadvantage at work, simply for being pregnant or taking maternity leave. An estimated 54,000 women have to leave work each year
  • ten per cent of women surveyed felt their employer had discouraged them from attending ante natal appointments
  • when mothers were allowed to work flexibly, around half reported negative consequences such as receiving fewer opportunities at work or feeling that their opinion was less valued and the impact on younger mothers (those under 25 years old) is greater in many areas, with around 6% experiencing dismissal compared with 1% across all age groups.

Further information and support

Page updated on: 4 July 2019