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Acas launches new guidance to prevent pregnancy and maternity discrimination at work

Tuesday 21 November 2017

New Acas guidance published today can help employers create supportive workplaces for women during pregnancy and maternity leave.

Acas received more than 14,000 calls last year about pregnancy and maternity issues, an increase of almost 10% on the previous year.

Acas Head of Diversity and Inclusion, Julie Dennis, said:

"It's fantastic that pregnancy and maternity discrimination is protected by the law but calls to our helpline show that this is still an issue.

"Women should not suffer any unfair treatment while pregnant or on maternity leave and most employers treat their employees fairly. But those that don't could find themselves at an employment tribunal.

"This new guidance can help managers deal fairly with women at work in areas such as recruitment, promotion and redundancy."

The guidance offers employers advice on how to comply with the Equalities Act, which protects employees against pregnancy and maternity discrimination. It includes:

  • employees on maternity leave should be made aware of opportunities for promotion and training
  • pregnancy related absences must not be included in an employee's absence record
  • employees must not be dismissed or made redundant for any issue related to pregnancy or maternity leave or maternity pay.

The guidance also recommends that employers:

  • develop a policy so that all employees understand their rights and responsibilities in relation to pregnancy and maternity discrimination
  • provide a suitable place for pregnant employees to rest in line with the law
  • identify and deal with risks to health and safety of a pregnant employee and their unborn child.

Notes to editors

  1. For media enquiries please contact Shumon Ali-Rahman, 020 7210 3688 or salirahman@acas.org.uk. For out of hours media enquiries please call the out of hours duty press officer on 020 7210 3600.
  2. The Acas guidance can be viewed at Pregnancy and maternity discrimination.
  3. The Acas helpline received 14,004 calls about pregnancy or maternity issues in 2016-17 and 12,814 calls in 2015-16.
  4. Acas stands for Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service. Acas provides free and impartial information and advice to employers and employees on all aspects of workplace relations and employment law. We support good relationships between employers and employees which underpin business success. We also provide good value, high quality training and tailored advice to employers. Our expertise is based on millions of contacts with employers and employees each year. Acas is an independent and impartial statutory body governed by a Council made up of members from business, trade unions, academia and the law.