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Sickness During Pregnancy

Key Points

  • Unfavourable treatment during the ‘protected period’ because of a pregnancy related illness amounts to pregnancy discrimination under s 18 (2) (b) Equality Act 2010.
  • In general, provisions relating to pregnancy discrimination because of sickness only apply from conception to the end of maternity leave. That period is called the ‘protected period’.
  • No specific protection exists against unfavourable treatment because of a pregnancy-related illness during a period of shared parental leave, but it could be sex discrimination.
  • Unfavourable treatment because of sickness related to IVF treatment before insertion of a fertilised egg in the uterus is not pregnancy discrimination; but, it may amount to direct sex discrimination.
  • If a sickness absence caused by pregnancy related illnesses has occurred during the protected period, it  cannot be taken into account in triggering sickness absence sanctions; nor can it be later taken into account for redundancy purposes.

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