Pregnant workers: play it safe

July 20, 2018
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It seems that a large number of employers still have discriminatory attitudes towards employing pregnant employees and new mothers.

A survey by the Equality and Human Rights commission of more than 1,100 private sector employers, have found that over a third thought it reasonable to ask female candidates during the recruitment process about their future plans to have children and six in ten thought that they should have to disclose if they are pregnant.

Pregnancy and Maternity is a protected characteristic under the Equality Act 2010. Direct discrimination because of the pregnancy or maternity leave is unlawful and can’t be justified. There are specific provisions in which states that discrimination can occur if a woman is treated “unfavourably” because of her pregnancy or a related illness or because she exercises her right to maternity leave.  Unlike in cases of Direct Sex Discrimination, where the statutory word refers to being treated “less favourably”, unfavourable treatment means there is no need to compare the way a pregnant woman is treated with that of any other candidate; if she’s treated unfavourably because of the pregnancy or maternity leave, that automatically constitutes discrimination.

Discriminatory questions. Interview questions such as whether a female candidate has children, is pregnant or plans to have children amounts to direct sex discrimination. If you fail to offer a job to a woman because she is pregnant, that’s direct pregnancy discrimination.

Pregnant women aren’t obliged to declare their pregnancy during the recruitment process. If a candidate volunteers this information, make sure you are not influenced in deciding her suitability for the job.


Don’t ask any questions about planning childcare arrangements during the recruitment process.