Discrimination Frequently Asked Questions

As part of my job, I have to lift heavy parcels, should I have to now I'm pregnant?

Your employer should carry out a risk assessment and any risks should be removed.

I am part of a team completing ‘like work’ with male colleagues but am being paid less, is this right?

The Equality Act 2010 sets out that where male and female workers are employed under the same terms of employment, working like work holding the same experience, skills and qualifications they should be paid the same wages and afforded the same benefits. If you are not being paid the same or treated less favourably in any way you may be being discriminated against. Please contact us to discuss further if you believe you are being treated less favourably than your male colleagues. 

I can't do my usual job. My employer has another job for me but wants to pay me less, can they?

No. You must be offered suitable alternative work on similar terms and conditions if you cannot do your usual job because you are pregnant.  If you are offered an alternative job on less favourable terms and conditions then you could argue that the alternative job is not suitable. If a suitable alternative job cannot be found, you can be suspended on full pay whilst you are pregnant. 

I suffer with a diagnosed medical condition that I believe amounts to a disability, can I ask my employer to make adjustments to my role?

Employees who are considered disabled have the right to request adjustments to their role to allow them to perform in the same capacity as their non-disabled colleagues. In order to ascertain what might be reasonable and what help and assistance your employer can obtain, it is important to ask for an Occupational Health assessment or Access to Work assessment which will be able to set out specific recommendations and details of any payment relief. 

I suffer with mental health complaints along with physical complaints, how do I know if I am classed as disabled in employment law?

The Equality Act 2010 sets out that a person suffering with a physical or mental impairment that has a ‘substantial’ and ‘long term’ negative effect on your ability to carry out normal daily activities could amount to a disability. 

The test is vague and ambiguous in places meaning that many mental and physical complaints could qualify as disabilities. The test is an onerous one that means that all conditions (aside from the exceptions specified on our discrimination page) that can be evidenced as having a substantial and long term detrimental effect can qualify you as disabled. 

I used to get good appraisals but since I became pregnant my line manager has started to criticise me.

You should not be treated less favourably due to your pregnancy or maternity leave.  If you are treated less favourably because of pregnancy, you may have a sex discrimination claim, contact us to discuss your specific circumstances.

I want to make a flexible working request, what can I do?

It is no longer necessary to have childcare or dependency commitments to make an application for flexible working. All employees whom have been employed for 26 weeks or more have the right to make up to one application per year. There is no automatic right to flexible working. However, you do have the right to request it. You could request a change to the hours you work, a change to the times you work or to work from home. To make an application, you should put forward your request in writing allowing your employer the opportunity to consider the validity and any impact. Your employer will usually hold a meeting to discuss your request and provide any outcomes. 

I want to return part-time. My employer said I have to do full-time or I'll be dismissed.

If you are refused to be allowed to return on a part-time basis after maternity leave because of childcare commitments, you may have a claim for indirect sex discrimination as statistically women usually take the primary child care role so any requirement on you to work full-time after maternity leave, which cannot be justified, would put you at a disadvantage.  An employer can refuse a request for flexible working if there are sound business reasons for doing so. 

I was off sick due to pregnancy and have been asked to attend a disciplinary meeting about my sickness.

Your employer should not discipline you for taking time off sick with pregnancy-related problems. Depending on how much time you had off sick, you would be entitled to statutory sick pay and any contractual sick pay as you would if you were off sick with any non pregnancy-related illnesses.  If you have been disciplined for taking time off with pregnancy-related illnesses, you may have a claim for sex discrimination, please contact us to discuss your specific circumstances.

I work part-time and have been asked to make antenatal appointments outside of my working hours?

Your employer can ask you to try and arrange appointments outside of your working hours but you have the same rights to paid time off for antenatal appointments as a full-time employee. So your employer cannot insist you attend antenatal clinics outside of your working hours if it's not possible.

I work with chemicals and asked to stand for long periods, what precautions should I take as I'm pregnant?

Your employer should carry out a risk assessment and provide you with appropriate personal protective equipment.  If the chemicals present a risk to your unborn baby, your employer must remove you from exposure to the chemicals either by offering alternative work, if available, or suspending you on full pay whilst you are pregnant. You may be at risk whilst pregnant if made to stand or sit for extended periods and your employer should carry out a risk assessment and make necessary adjustments.  If your employer has not done this, please call us.

My employer is holding a disciplinary meeting where I face disciplinary action due to my time off with ill health, is this correct?

If you have been diagnosed with a health complaint that constitutes a disability that has caused you to take periods of time off unwell and your employer is disciplining you for those absences, this may amount to an act of discrimination. Ill health absence which is solely as a result of your disability should not be counted as absences when looking at any Bradford scores or other associated disciplinary/capability procedures as this could be an act of discrimination. 

My employer said I have to make time up if I go to antenatal appointments, is that right?

No, you have the right to paid time off for antenatal appointments, although your employer does have the right to see your antenatal appointment card to confirm appointment times.  Please call us if you continue to experience difficulty in getting paid time off for antenatal appointments.

My employer wants me to attend a 1 hour course on one of my Keeping in Touch days and says that counts as a full day.

Any work carried out on any day whilst you are on maternity leave counts as a Keeping in Touch day, so even just an hour's work on one day will count as a full Keeping In Touch day.  It may be possible for you to arrange with your employer to do other work on that day as well to get the full benefit of a Keeping in Touch day.