Skip navigation to content

6.5 Pregnancy and Maternity (including Paternity)

Tips on Avoiding Discrimination under the Equality Act (2010) for Pregnancy and Maternity: 

  • A School/Unit decides to reject applications from anyone who has had a career break.  This would have a worse impact on some people who share a particular protected characteristic, such as women, who are more likely to have taken a break to have a family.  Unless the School/Unit can objectively justify the requirement for the successful applicant not to have had a career break, this is likely to be unlawful indirect discrimination.

  • An interview panel makes an applicant feel humiliated by telling jokes about parenting commitments = Harassment.

  • Understanding the requirements of attendees is vital for them not to feel at a disadvantage compared to others.  Such as not being able to attend a venue due to being Pregnancy and Maternity.  Examples of considerations to be inclusive: 

    • Travelling to the venue – map of venue, parking, and effect of Adverse weather guide

    • Physical accessibility – requests relating to walking on stairs, lift maintenance, flashing lights, noise, seating appropriateness, or level access - refer to: Physical Access Guide

EHRC Equality Act (2010) guidance re Job Offers:

Section 16.69 - As stated at the beginning of this chapter, an employer must not discriminate against a person in the terms on which the person is offered employment.  Example: An employer offers a job but extends their usual probation period from three months to six months because the preferred candidate is a woman returning from maternity leave or a person with a disability.  This would be discrimination in the terms on which the person is offered employment.

Section 16.70 - A refusal to recruit a woman because she is pregnant is unlawful even if she is unable to carry out the job for which she is to be employed. This will be the case even if the initial vacancy was to cover another woman on maternity leave. It is irrelevant that the woman failed to disclose that she was pregnant when she was recruited. A woman is not legally obliged to tell an employer during the recruitment process that she is pregnant because it is not a factor which can lawfully influence the employer’s decision.

EHRC Equality Act (2010) guidance for applicants:  

Example — A woman applies for a job as a training instructor.  On the basis of her application form and her interview, the employer decides she is the best person for the job and offers the job to her.  She has just discovered she is pregnant and tells the employer this when she accepts the job offer. If the employer changes their mind and withdraws the job offer, this would be direct discrimination and cannot be justified. 


Human Resources

University of St Andrews
The Old Burgh School

Abbey Walk
St Andrews
KY16 9LB
Scotland, United Kingdom

Tel: +44(0)1334 463096