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Case law: dismissal for pregnancy-related absence after maternity leave not discriminatory

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  • Publish date: 02 April 2014
  • Archived on: 01 April 2015

An employer could dismiss an employee for sickness absence for post-natal depression without it being discriminatory, because the absences were after maternity leave had ended, a Tribunal has ruled.

Legal Alert

This update was published in Legal Alert - April 2014

Legal Alert is a monthly checklist from Atom Content Marketing highlighting new and pending laws, regulations, codes of practice and rulings that could have an impact on your business.

An employee was dismissed for absence caused by post-natal depression after her maternity leave had ended. She claimed sex and/or pregnancy and maternity discrimination. The employer argued that dismissal for a pregnancy-related illness could not be discriminatory if the illness was after the end of maternity leave.

The Employment Appeal Tribunal agreed with the employer. As she was dismissed after the end of maternity leave, there was no unlawful discrimination. Her claim for direct sex discrimination also failed. Her employer was entitled to compare that part of her period of sickness absence taken after the end of her maternity leave with a comparable period of sickness for a man - even if her absence was pregnancy-related.

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