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What is Pregnancy and Maternity Discrimination?

Pregnancy and Maternity discrimination refers to treating a person or people unfavourably because they are pregnant, have a pregnancy-related illness or during the period after the birth. In the non-work context, protection against maternity discrimination is for 26 weeks after giving birth and this includes discrimination against someone because they are breastfeeding.

Maternity discrimination in the workplace is linked to the period of maternity leave. Outside of this period, it may be a case of sex discrimination (for example, mistreatment due to postnatal depression after the maternity leave had ended). If a person believed they had been discriminated against during a recruitment process because the employer saw pregnancy as a risk, this would be a sex discrimination claim and not pregnancy and maternity discrimination.
 
If an employer treats an employee unfairly because it believes they are pregnant or taking maternity leave – even though they are not – they could still claim pregnancy and maternity discrimination.
 
Pregnancy and Maternity discrimination can also come in the form of online harassment.

What are the effects of Pregnancy and Maternity discrimination?

Discrimination creates a hostile environment for all.
 
If you have experienced Pregnancy and Maternity discrimination you may:
  • feel humiliated, uncomfortable, upset or angry;
  • have poor mental health such as anxiety, low mood or depression;
  • be reluctant to engage with work or studies;
  • feel nervous, paranoid, vulnerable or stressed; 
  • be subject to unwanted comments; and 
  • feel ignored, isolated or excluded.

What can be done if you or someone you know has been the victim of Pregnancy and Maternity discrimination?

 
Safety First
 
If someone is in immediate danger or is seriously injured:
  • Call 999 and ask for the appropriate emergency service.
  • Additionally, if you are on Newcastle University Campus, inform Newcastle University Security using the Safe Zone app or by calling 0191 208 6666.  If you are on the London Campus, please contact main reception on 0203 752 2459.
Legal action
 
If you are subjected to hostile, intimidating, humiliating, degrading or offensive treatment because of pregnancy or maternity you could bring a claim for direct discrimination. You just need to show that you were treated unfavourably because of pregnancy or maternity.
 
 
Report anonymously to the University

Our online Report and Support Tool enables students and colleagues to report concerns about harassment, sexual violence or hate crime anonymously. Whether you experienced this directly, witnessed an incident, or heard through a third party, our report and support tool will record the incident and inform our preventative work. Our community is an environment where prejudice and socially unacceptable behaviour are never tolerated. 


Ask the University to take action

For Students: If you would like to report concerns about harassment, sexual violence, discrimination or hate crime, which was carried out by a member of the Newcastle University community, you can discuss this with the Student Progress Casework Team. You can email them directly via Casework@ncl.ac.uk and with your consent and cooperation, they will initiate the appropriate complaint or disciplinary processes.  
 
For Colleagues: If you are a Newcastle University colleague and have experienced, witnessed or heard about harassment, sexual violence, discrimination or a hate crime, and wish to formally report it, you can do so by raising your concerns with your line manager in the first instance. If you do not feel this reporting mechanism is appropriate, you can speak to another manager or your local People Service Advisor (click here for a list of contacts). Alternatively, you can follow our grievance procedure (click here for more information). All complaints will be taken extremely seriously and investigated in line with our colleague policies and procedures. 

 
 Support for Students

Remember you do not have to make any formal report to the University or the Police to receive free and confidential support from the University. It may be a good idea to speak to your Personal Tutor or Research Supervisor to inform your school of the impact your experiences have had upon your studies and where this has had a negative impact on an assignment/examination you can seek an adjustment via the PEC system.
 
The Student Health and Wellbeing Teams are experienced in supporting students who have been victims of pregnancy and maternity discrimination or harassment and they work closely with local and national partners to link you to more specialist support, should you need it.
  • Our Faith and Spirituality Team provide dedicated and confidential support for anyone affected by harassment and in need of someone to talk to. They can be contacted by email: pastoral.support@ncl.ac.uk
  • You can receive confidential counselling support from the Newcastle University Student Health and Wellbeing Counselling Team.  In London, please come to the 4th floor Welcome Desk and ask to see the Student Welfare Officer, who can refer you to the London based counsellor.
  • All postgraduate students can receive free 24/7 personal support from our PG Support Service.

Newcastle University Student Union (NUSU)

Advice and support is also available from your NUSU Welfare and Equality Officer, BAME Officer and LGBT+ Officer who are advocates for minority groups on campus.

You can contact the officers via email:

Welfare and Equality Officer: welfare.union@newcastle.ac.uk

BAME Officer: bame.union@newcastle.ac.uk

LGBT+ Officer: lgbt.union@newcastle.ac.uk

If matters are affecting your academic work, your accommodation or financial situation you can contact the Student Advice Centre for support (SAC).

You can also report sexual harassment and violence, discrimination, initiations, domestic abuse, bullying or hate crimes perpetrated by a student, staff member or member of the general public directly to your Student Union via the anonymous ‘It Happens Here’ disclosure system.  Reporting into this system gives you 2 options.  Option 1 asks you to complete a disclosure/report form anonymously to the NUSU’s independent SAC.  Option 2 will ask you to provide contact details which allows the SAC to contact you to arrange an appointment (via telephone or in person). 


Accommodation Services and ResLife
 
If you are a student living in the University owned or managed-partnership accommodation, you can also speak to a member of Accommodation Services or the ResLife team based in your student village. This support can be found across Castle Leazes Student Village, Park View Student Village, Kensington/Park Student Village, and the ResLife Helix Hub (specifically for those students living in the managed-partnership accommodation). The ResLife team is experienced in supporting students living in the student accommodation with free support, information and guidance affected by harassment or discrimination in any form. 

The ResLife team can be contacted:
Further Information regarding support available from ResLife can be found at the ResLife page.

Guidance from Accommodation Services can also be found at the Accommodation Services page.


Support for Staff

Newcastle University staff can access information, advice, support and counselling from the Employee Assistance Programme, which can include support to those supporting staff or students through difficult times.  The Employee Assistance Programme can be accessed via the following mechanisms.
  • Free 24-Hour confidential helpline: 0800 030 5182 
  • Or for international calls: +44 0161 836 9498 (this will incur a charge) you will need to quote the username 'Newcastle' and the password 'University'
  • Via the web portal (password as above). Navigate to 'Contact us' and you will find a form to request support.
  • Via the Health Assured app (install the app onto your mobile).  There is a form to request support without making a phone call.
Staff are welcome to contact the Employee Assistance Programme directly.  Alternatively, managers can make a referral.  Information on how to make a referral can be found on our Employee Assistance Programme web page.
 
JustAsk

JustAsk is a listening service offering confidential support and signposting to staff.  It is operated by a team of volunteers who can provide a listening ear and information to their staff on a range of issues.

Our Faith and Spirituality Team also provide dedicated and confidential support for anyone affected by harassment and in need of someone to talk to. They can be contacted by email: pastoral.support@ncl.ac.uk.

The Education Support Network
Free telephone and online support and counselling for anyone who works in Education.


Trade Unions

Newcastle University recognises three campus trade unions: UNISON, UCU and UNITE.

UNISON 

Unison are here to support its members who feel they are experiencing discrimination in the workplace. Our branch officers and stewards are experienced in dealing with and advising on issues of discrimination. We are also backed up by regional and national self-organised groups who campaign for the rights of people with protected characteristics.

If you'd like to discuss any issues you are facing, please do not hesitate to email or call us directly for advice.

Contact details: Tel: 07557 922 884 / Email: unison@ncl.ac.uk

UCU

UCU (University and College Union) can support members who are experiencing discrimination in the workplace.  The branch committee and caseworkers are there to help staff experiencing discrimination, with the support of regional and national UCU officers.  If you wish to discuss any issues, please see our website for contact details.

UNITE

Unite acts on behalf of its members and bargains with employers to achieve greater equality and diversity in the workplace. If you are suffering from discrimination, harassment or bullying at work you should contact your shop steward, representative or regional Unite office. All enquiries are treated as confidential.   

Email: unite@newcastle.ac.uk


External sources of support


Maternity Action

0808 802 0029

www.maternityaction.org.uk

Maternity Action is the UK’s leading charity committed to ending inequality and improving the health and wellbeing of pregnant women, partners and young children.
 

Rights of Women

0207 251 6577 (Family Law)

www.rightsofwomen.org.uk

A women’s charity working to provide women in England and Wales with the legal advice and information they need to understand and use the law and their legal rights.
 

Working Families

0300 012 0312

www.workingfamilies.org.uk

Working Families is the UK’s work-life balance charity. We help working parents and carers—and their employers—find a better balance between responsibilities at home and in the workplace.


Gingerbread

0808 802 0925

www.gingerbread.org.uk

Expert advice and practical support for single parents.

 
National Childbirth Trust

0300 330 0700

www.nct.org.uk

For practical and emotional support in all areas of pregnancy, birth and early parenthood including help with feeding.

 
Equality Advisory & Support (EASS)

0808 800 0082

www.equalityadvisoryservice.com

Advises and assists individuals on issues relating to equality and human rights across England, Scotland and Wales.


Pregnant then Screwed

www.pregnantthenscrewed.com

A women’s charity led by women with lived experience of pregnancy and maternity discrimination.  Includes a range of support and resources, including community events and campaigns.
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