Pregnancy and Maternity

Pregnancy and Maternity Inequality in Wales

The Facts

In August 2013 an article by the BBC revealed that 35% mothers questioned across the UK felt that “their workplace was not supportive of their situation when they were pregnant”. Furthermore, 31% felt they were not well treated by their employer while on maternity leave. Approximately 27% of the mothers questioned felt under pressure to return to work earlier than they wanted too. When they returned to their place of work following maternity 29% had felt that they had been “overlooked for a promotion because of their responsibilities as a mother”. Moreover, 48% thought that their chances of career progression had been halted since becoming a mother. 25% of mothers thought that they had been discriminated against at work. Although of these, 70% never made a formal complaint about unfair treatment or discrimination. The main reason given for not reporting unfair treatment was that they did not want to “rock the boat” (26%)[1].

Know Your Rights

You have the right not to be treated unfairly compared to other workers because you are pregnant or on maternity leave. It is unlawful for your employer to dismiss you because you are pregnant or for reasons connected with your pregnancy or maternity leave. It is also unlawful for your employer to deny you access to holiday pay, sickness pay training or any other contractual benefit that all employees are entitled to.

When you are on maternity leave

During ordinary paid maternity leave, you are entitled to the same benefits that you would get if you were working full time. This includes things like:

  • Paid holiday
  • Employers’ pension contributions
  • Health club membership
  • Participation in share schemes

You are normally, but not always, entitled to any pay rises and bonuses that you would have received if you had been working full time.

When you come back to work after having a baby

You must be allowed to return to your own job unless this is genuinely not possible: for example, if your post has become redundant while you were away. If this happens you should be offered a suitable alternative. To receive the full extent of your rights, you must tell your employer (in writing if they request) that you are pregnant, preferably as soon as you know. Find out about your company’s maternity policy. They may offer you more than your basic rights.

Employment protection for fathers

It may be unlawful sex discrimination to treat a father unfavourably for reasons associated with his partner’s pregnancy – for example if he is disciplined for expressing health and safety concerns about his pregnant wife’s treatment in the same workplace, or if he is dismissed for taking time off in an emergency to look after his new baby[2].


  1. BBC website. Many mothers ‘feel discriminated against at work’.