Discrimination because of pregnancy: According to the Ombudsman, too many women are still discriminated against

Faced with the increasing number of complaints about discrimination related to pregnancy over the years, the human rights defender decides to make this day public a legal guide Dealing with discrimination based on pregnancy in the private sector.

This guide provides legal tools for victims and aims to help legal professionals identify and deal with discrimination based on pregnancy. It is also intended to help prevent such discrimination by informing those involved in the world of work.

Discrimination still too present…

While women in employment enjoy significant legal protections during and after pregnancy, they are still too often discriminated against: for 2021, more than 3.2% of the references covered by Defender discrimination rights were based on pregnancy. In the private sector, this rate is 2%.

« We still make too many decisions where women don’t get hired because they’re pregnant; not returning to work after returning from maternity leave; or whose probationary period is terminated due to pregnancy. It’s terrifying and illegal. Discrimination is significant…many people may be affected by this Legal Guide ».

Claire Hédon, defender of rights.

In the 10th Barometer on perceptions of discrimination in the workplace, published by the Defender of Rights, pregnancy and motherhood are the third reason for discrimination cited by women (7%).

Despite an extremely protective law, throughout the course of pregnancy

Maternity protection at work is one of the oldest international standards (1919 the International Labor Organization Convention “On Maternity Protection” was adopted), protection that can be found both in civil cases, in criminal cases, but also in European law.

It is sometimes a lack of knowledge by both victims and employers of this highly protective right that allows discrimination based on pregnancy to persist.

This legal guide therefore reaffirms current law and recalls that employment is one of the areas where discrimination, including pregnancy-related discrimination, is prohibited. The law offers protection at all times of the employment relationship.

This affirms that a woman cannot be refused a job offer, promotion or dismissal because of her pregnancy. This protection of the worker continues even after her pregnancy and the birth of her child, since she has in particular the right to return to her job as a matter of priority or, if this is not possible, to a comparable job with at least equivalent remuneration, which is the case is often no longer the case today.

Learn more:

Consult the file “Pregnancy and employment: Be aware of and fight against discrimination” which takes stock of discrimination based on the state of pregnancy.

Consult the Guide to Pregnancy Discrimination in the Private Sector

Consult the leaflet – Pregnancy without discrimination

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