After Lancashire woman sacked while pregnant wins her employment tribunal: What are your rights at work?

Aimee Sanderson had been trying for a baby for over a year, so when she learned she was pregnant she was thrilled.

Wednesday, 13th March 2019, 8:46 am
Updated Wednesday, 13th March 2019, 8:53 am
Aimee Sanderson with her son Charlie
Aimee Sanderson with her son Charlie

But the reaction of her boss took the shine off her news, and things became steadily worse for her at work until she was sacked for "gross misconduct"

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But what rights do pregnant employees have? And what obligations do bosses have towards their staff who are expecting?

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The UK introduced its first law relating to maternity leave in 1975, but many women did not qualify for it, and it offered no protection to women during their pregnancy.

Since then, rights have been gradually strengthened, and the 2010 Equality Act explicitly prevents any discrimination because of pregnancy or illness resulting from it, such as morning sickness.

Section 18(2) of the Equality Act 2010 states:

A person discriminates against a woman if, in the protected period in relation to a pregnancy of hers, they treat her unfavourably

(a) because of the pregnancy, or

(b) because of illness suffered by her as a result of it.

Section 18(4) of the Act states: A person discriminates against a woman if they treat her unfavourably because she is exercising or seeking to exercise, or has exercised or sought to exercise, the right to ordinary or additional maternity leave.

Regulation 20 of the 1999 Maternity and Parental Leave show that regulations, provide, amongst other things, that an employee who is dismissed shall be regarded as unfairly dismissed if the reason or principal reason for the dismissal is that the employee is pregnant or that she sought to take statutory maternity leave.