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Sick pay during pregnancy related illness
All employers must pay a minimum amount of sick pay to employees
absent from work because of illness (Statutory Sick Pay). Many
employers choose to pay more than this (contractual sick pay). If
you are absent from work because of pregnancy related illness, you
are entitled to receive the same amount of sick pay as you would
normally receive according to your contract. If you normally only
receive Statutory Sick Pay then you will not be entitled to more
than this during pregnancy related illness. You should not, however,
be treated any less favourably because the illness is pregnancy
If your sick pay normally drops if you have been absent for a
particular period of time, this is allowed even if your absence is
pregnancy-related. At no point can your pay be reduced to nothing
if you are absent from work because of a pregnancy related illness
before you begin maternity leave. This is because European law says
that you must receive a minimum amount that is not so low as to not
protect a pregnant employee.
You should also be aware that if you are only receiving Statutory
Sick Pay during your 'qualifying period' for Statutory Maternity
Pay, this might affect whether you qualify for SMP and the amount
Some employers pay enhanced sick pay on a 'discretionary basis'.
Sometimes even though an employer refers to payments
as 'discretionary' they can become an implied term of your contract.
If this is the case and your employer refuses to pay you enhanced
sick pay and you think this is because your illness is pregnancy
related, you may have a claim under the Equal Pay Act. You would
have to gather evidence as to whether other employees are usually
paid full sick pay, and whether you have been paid full pay in the
past for other non- pregnancy related illness. The Equal Pay Act
requires you to identify a male comparator in order to take a claim,
but you may also be able to argue that you do not need a comparator
(see Frequently Asked Questions).
If the sick pay is genuinely discretionary and does not form part of
your contract but you feel that your employer is not paying you
enhanced sick pay because the illness is pregnancy related this
might fall under the Sex Discrimination Act rather than the Equal
Pay Act. For further information on this see our information on
Pregnancy and Maternity. The dividing line between claims that fall
under the Equal Pay Act and claims that fall under the Sex
Discrimination Act is unclear. Sometimes it is best to lodge claims
under both Acts to be on the safe side. If you are uncertain you
should seek further advice. Remember that the time limit for lodging
claims under the Sex Discrimination Act is 3 months, which is
shorter than under the Equal Pay Act. See Pregnancy and Maternity
for further information.
Remember that if you are disciplined or dismissed or made redundant
because of time off for a pregnancy related illness, you could have
a potential claim under the Sex Discrimination Act or Employment
Rights Act. See Pregnancy and Maternity for further information.
Pay discrimination during pregnancy and maternity leave
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