This article was published on October 12th, 2017
Guisado v Bankia SA
Pregnant workers in the UK are protected by the Equality Act. The legislation makes pregnancy and maternity discrimination unlawful, the relevant period being the start of the worker’s pregnancy to the end of their maternity leave or when they return to work (if earlier).
It is also automatically unfair to dismiss a worker, or to select her for redundancy, when the reason or main reason is connected to her pregnancy or statutory maternity leave. This doesn’t mean that a pregnant woman or a new mum cannot be dismissed, but employers must be careful to ensure that the reason for this is not pregnancy/maternity-related.
A Spanish case involving a pregnant worker who was dismissed as part of a collective redundancy has been making its way through the courts. Her employer said it was unaware of her pregnancy when it dismissed her. This all led to a referral of a number of questions to the CJEU and, so far, an opinion (a non-binding view) of the Advocate General that, among other things:
If the Opinion is followed, pregnant employees could find that they are better protected when it comes to the early days of their pregnancy (including before they tell their employer), and perhaps in relation to collective redundancy. The CJEU’s word on this is now eagerly awaited.