Can your employer sack you for being pregnant?

Pregnant woman standing at window

An employer cannot legally dismiss you if the reason relates to pregnancy, childbirth or maternity leave. To do so can be considered automatically unfair and an act of discrimination.

Unlike other claims for unfair dismissal, you do not need to have completed two-years’ service with your employer to challenge a dismissal.

If you have suffered from pregnancy discrimination, you can pursue an Employment Tribunal claim.  If you are successful then you can ask to be reinstated to your old job, re-engaged into another role, or be awarded compensation.

To succeed at Tribunal you have to show firstly that your employer knows or believes that you are pregnant and the main reason that you have been dismissed is because of your pregnancy or any reason connected with it.

Employers will not usually admit that your dismissal was due to your pregnancy, and may try to rely on other reasons. You can legitimately be dismissed during your pregnancy, for example, due to gross misconduct, but the onus is always on the employer to show your dismissal was not due to your pregnancy.

Pregnancy and Maternity are also protected characteristics under the Equality Act 2010, and you will also be entitled to make a claim for discrimination if you have been treated unfavourably.

This may be in relation to your employer failing to provide the rights you are entitled to such as time off for medical appointments, maternity leave or statutory maternity pay.

On your return to work you will have the right to return to the same job and the right to request flexible working conditions.

If you are dismissed or you have been treated unfavourably due to pregnancy or maternity leave, then you should take advice without delay as the time limit to challenge this behaviour is very short. 

A claim to the Employment Tribunal must be lodged within 3 months (less one day) from the dismissal or the act of discrimination complained of.

If you feel you have been dismissed or treated unfavourably due to being pregnant, during maternity leave or upon your return to work, please get in touch for help.