Women have the right to work while pregnant and to be treated the same as other staff, unless there are good medical reasons for different treatment.
Reducing a pregnant staff member's hours, terminating their employment or treating them unfairly at work, could be pregnancy discrimination.
Discrimination against pregnant staff may include:
- dismissal or demotion
- denying or limiting access to promotion, transfer, bonus pay, training or any other benefits
- unreasonable workplace policies, practices or procedures.
Where there are medical reasons that restrict certain duties, you are required to make reasonable accommodation.
Kate worked full time as a receptionist. After she told the boss that she was pregnant, her hours were reduced to three days a week "for her own good," although her doctor had advised she was fit to work full time. Kate could claim that she was discriminated against because of her pregnancy.
You are also liable for the behaviour of your staff. This is vicarious liability. If other staff discriminate against a pregnant staff member you may both be held responsible.
If you are unsure of your rights and obligations regarding pregnant staff, contact us for advice.