Rights of a new mother?
Under the Equality Act 2010, it is unlawful to discrimination against an employee because of pregnancy or maternity leave or because the mother wants to return to work after maternity on the same or different hours.
Women do not have to show a comparison of less favourable treatment, but simply that they have been treated less favourably because of their maternity or pregnancy. This is unlawful discrimination under the Equality Act 2010 both in terms of sex discrimination and maternity related discrimination.
Are women still be less favourably treated because of maternity leave or because they have a baby?
It would seem that they are. I continue to have many enquiries from new mothers who are not being treated in the same way since they have informed their employer of their pregnancy or because they are looking to return to work after maternity leave.
What steps can you take?
As always it is important to keep a record of all that occurs; this includes, copies of emails, a short written record of any conversation relevant to the issues, notes of any meetings.
As a mother of a young child you can request flexible working; formally or informally. This could vary in content depending on whether your employer has its own internal scheme or whether you follow the statutory scheme.
You should take advice as early as possible as the time limit for bringing an Employment Tribunal claim is 3 months from an incident of discrimination. You can obtain advice from your trade union or the local Citizens Advice Bureau or a solicitor. You can also obtain advice from ACAS and if you pursued a Tribunal claim of discrimination, you would have to follow the Early Conciliation process through ACAS.