When referring to real cases, we use aliases.
In a survey carried out by the Equality and Human Rights Commission in June 2017 77% of people said they had a negative - and possibly discriminatory - experience during pregnancy, maternity leave or after their return to work. So it’s no surprise that for many parents, this is an anxious time.
Understanding your rights and where to access support can offer some reassurance.
If you’ve been on maternity leave for less than 26 weeks (“ordinary maternity leave”), you’re entitled to return to exactly the same job as you had before going on leave.
If you’ve been on maternity leave for more than 26 weeks (“additional maternity leave”), your employer can offer you an alternative, similar role if they can show that it’s not “reasonably practicable” for you to return to exactly the same job. The job you’re offered must be on the same or better terms than your previous role, in terms of pay, benefits, holiday entitlements and seniority.
You can ask for flexible working at any time, but it’s particularly helpful for working parents. This could mean changing days or shift patterns, working from home, or working flexible hours. Your employer doesn’t have to say yes, but they must have a valid business reason for saying no.
In UK law, there is a ‘protected period’ that starts when you become pregnant and ends when your maternity leave ends, or you return to work (whichever is earlier). If your employer treats you unfavourably during the ‘protected period’ because of pregnancy, a pregnancy related illness or maternity leave, this is unlawful discrimination.
When the protected period has ended, you still can’t be discriminated against for having taken maternity leave or tried to take maternity leave.
Common examples of maternity discrimination include:
Ask yourself this: if I wasn’t on / going on maternity leave, would I have been treated better? If the answer is yes, you may have a claim for discrimination.
Yes, you can leave your job after maternity leave. Your contract will tell you how much notice you need to give your employer. You won’t have to pay back any statutory maternity pay or Maternity Allowance, but might have to pay back contractual maternity pay, depending on your contract.
If you’re returning to work, remember:
Becoming a parent is life-changing. If you’ve experienced maternity discrimination or you’re feeling overwhelmed on returning to work, you’re not alone.
At Valla, our goal is to help you understand your rights. We offer a space for you to build your case so you feel empowered to stand up to your employer. Sign up for your free Valla account