Maternity rights


Morning sickness, sleepless nights and changing nappies are stressful enough without having to worry about work. If you’re a GMB member who believes that you are being treated unfairly or discriminated against because you’re pregnant or are on maternity leave, get in touch with GMB. 

What are my rights?

Trade unions fought for maternity rights to be put into law, because far too often working women are discriminated against in the workplace.   

You should always speak to your rep, GMB region or call GMB’s own law firm UnionLine if you believe you are being discriminated against at work. If you’re a GMB member, GMB will always stand up for you and give you the best advice and representation possible. 

Below is some background information on some of the questions we get asked most frequently. 


When do maternity rights kick in?

Your rights are protected from when your employer knows you are pregnant to when your maternity leave ends. 

Does my employer have to make adjustments to help me do my job?

An employer cannot discipline you for matters related to your pregnancy. For example, if your GP says that you cannot work night shifts, adjustments will need to be made for you to continue working in the day. If you need to take frequent toilet breaks, the employer should not take action because of that. Both scenarios are directly linked to pregnancy and so you are protected at work from any disciplinary action. 

Do I keep my terms and conditions when I am on maternity leave?

Yes, your employer must continue to adhere to your contractual terms and conditions. It is only your pay that changes. 

My employer does not want me to return to the same role I left, can they do that?

Your employer must offer you the same role, or an equivalent one if they are making redundancies.

Can my employer make me redundant while I am on maternity leave?

Your employer can make redundancies while you are on maternity leave, but you cannot be made redundant because you are on maternity leave. If your post becomes redundant while you are on maternity leave, you must be offered a suitable alternative vacancy, which you do not have to interview for and your employer must consult with you about the possible redundancy. If you do not accept a suitable vacancy, your employer can make you redundant. 
If there is no suitable alternative vacancy, and your post really is redundant – for example a business is closing and the post no longer exists – your employer can make you redundant during maternity leave, but your redundancy can never be directly linked to your pregnancy or maternity leave and a fair process should be followed. Not doing so could lead to a claim of unfair dismissal. 


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