I am on/about to go on maternity leave and am looking for work. Can an employer refuse to appoint me because I am on maternity leave?
No, an employer must treat you the same way as any other job applicant, except that they may need to wait for you to start work until your maternity leave is over. You should discuss when you might be able to start.
When applying for work you must not be rejected because you:
- are on maternity leave or
- have just taken maternity leave or
- are about to go on maternity leave, eg for a second time.
An employer must not, because of your maternity leave:
- refuse to interview you or not appoint you to a job
- give you a job for a limited period instead of permanent employment
- insist you start work when you are on maternity leave, or,
- offer you a lower salary or other different, less favourable terms.
Can I ask to work part-time, or for other flexible working arrangements, even if a job is advertised as full-time?
Yes, you may ask to work part-time or on a different working pattern. For more information, take a look at the ACAS guidance on flexible working. A refusal of your request may be indirect sex discrimination.
Indirect sex discrimination is where there is a provision, such as full-time working applied to men and women equally, which particularly disadvantages women compared to men, and which the employer cannot show is necessary for the business link. Your employer should consider carefully whether the job could be done in the hours or pattern requested by you.
Your employer is legally required to contact you about any promotion or other job opportunities that come up when you are on maternity leave, explaining what you need to do to apply.
I have applied for a job and been shortlisted but I have just given birth and cannot attend the interview, what can I do?
You can ask for the interview to be postponed until you are able to attend. You can ask for a telephone interview, though this is often not so satisfactory.
Last updated: 16 Mar 2023