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Discrimination in the workplace: Are you guilty of pregnancy discrimination?

by , 14 March 2014
When we say discrimination comes in different forms, we're not lying. Not only is there sexual orientation discrimination, racial discrimination, age discrimination, but there's also something called pregnancy discrimination. Read on to find out what it is so you can make sure you're not guilty of it.

Pregnancy discrimination explained

The US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission explains that pregnancy discrimination involves treating a woman (an applicant or employee) unfavorably because of pregnancy, childbirth, or a medical condition related to pregnancy or childbirth.

When can pregnancy discrimination arise?

The Equal Opportunities Commission says situations where pregnancy discrimination in employment is often arises are s:

  • Not being hired for a job
  • Dismissal during pregnancy or upon return from maternity leave
  • Being bypassed for promotion or favourable transfer
  • Being subjected to demotion or unfavourable transfer
  • Not being offered a pay rise or bonus consistent with what other employees receive
  • Changes to working hours, roles and duties without just causes
  • Positions filled by substituting or existing employees



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Is pregnancy discrimination legal?

No. Discriminating a woman because she's pregnant is illegal. The constitution also prohibits this.

What's more, My Wage explains that the Code of Good Practice on the Protection of Employees during Pregnancy and after the Birth of Her Child states that no person may be discriminated against or dismissed on account of pregnancy.

The Labour Relations Act also says that: 'A dismissal is automatically unfair if the reason for the dismissal is the employee's pregnancy, intended pregnancy, or any reason related to her pregnancy.'

How can you guard against pregnancy discrimination?

The best way to ensure you're not discriminating against pregnant women is to abide by the relevant laws. Being pregnant doesn't mean an employee isn't able to carry out her duties.

Also bear in mind that the Basic Conditions of Employment Act requires you to give your employee at least four consecutive months' maternity leave.

Experts at the Labour & HR Club say your employee can start maternity leave any time from four weeks before the expected date of birth, unless otherwise agreed.

The bottom line is workplace discrimination is unlawful. This includes pregnancy discrimination. So make sure you don't discriminate pregnant employees.

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