Increase in 'gagging orders' for pregnancy related discrimination

22 May 2019

New research from Direct Line Life Insurance reveals that in the last 12 months, more than two thirds (71 per cent) of employment law professionals reported an increase in disputes where employees’ working hours were reduced when they returned from maternity leave.


The research, conducted by Pure Profile among 104 employment law practitioners, reveals that despite parents being protected from unfair treatment during pregnancy and maternity or paternity leave by The Equality Act 2010, many employers may be flouting the law.


Unfair dismissal cases are also on the rise, with 70 per cent of employment law experts witnessing an increase in women claiming they were fired when on maternity leave. 


Employers are also increasingly turning to so-called ‘gagging orders’ to ensure confidentiality when settling pregnancy and maternity related discrimination claims.  In the last 12 months, 84 per cent of employment law experts have seen an increase in the number of Non-Disclosure Agreements (NDAs) used by employers following pregnancy and maternity-related disputes.


Legal professionals report a rise in the number of cases where women claim they were demoted upon returning to work following maternity leave, with 64 per cent saying these claims have increased in the last 12 months.


Paternity-related claims

Mothers aren’t the only ones experiencing an increase in workplace discrimination due to pregnancy.  In the last 12 months, there has also been an increase in claims made by fathers.  There has been a 63 per cent increase in cases of fathers claiming they have been demoted upon returning to work and a 61 per cent increase in disputes related to promotions while the claimant was on paternity leave.  There has also been an increase in men claiming unfair dismissal (59 per cent) and pay disputes (58 per cent) while on paternity leave.  Fathers are also claiming employer harassment for taking paternity leave despite it being a legal right, with over half (56 per cent) of legal experts seeing an increase in these disputes in the last 12 months.