Pregnancy and breastfeeding discrimination

What is pregnancy and breastfeeding discrimination?

Pregnancy and breastfeeding discrimination is when you have been treated unfairly because you are pregnant, breastfeeding or expressing milk. It’s also against the law to be treated unfairly because you’re the relative, friend or colleague of a person who is pregnant, breastfeeding or expressing milk.

Indirect discrimination is also against the law. This is when there is a rule or requirement that is the same for everyone but unfairly affects people who are pregnant or breastfeeding. 

In what areas is pregnancy and breastfeeding discrimination against the law?

Pregnancy and breastfeeding discrimination is against the law in certain public places, including:

  • employment, such as when you apply for a job or while you are at work
  • employment agencies, such as when you use recruitment companies
  • when you access goods and services, for example when you are shopping, when you do your banking or access medical services
  • state education, such as when you apply for study and during your studies
  • when you rent accommodation
  • industrial organisations, such as unions
  • qualifying bodies
  • at registered clubs (clubs that sell alcohol or have gambling machines), such as when you try to enter or join a club.

What are my rights at work?

Employers must treat pregnant employees the same way that other employees are treated. It is against the law for an employer to:

  • not hire you because they think you are pregnant
  • dismiss or retrench you because you are pregnant
  • transfer you to another job because you are pregnant (unless there is a valid medical or safety reason)
  • stop you from being promoted because you are pregnant
  • not give you the same or similar job when you return from maternity leave.

You are entitled to maternity leave if you have worked with the same employer for 12 months.

Employers should provide you with support to breastfeed and express milk in the workplace. Your employer should try to provide you with appropriate facilities and work breaks to breastfeed and express milk.

What can I do if I experience pregnancy and breastfeeding discrimination?

If you are unsure if you have experienced discrimination or if you need more information, you can contact our enquiry service.

If you feel you have been discriminated against, you can try speaking to the person or organisation directly to express how you feel if you are comfortable to do so. If this isn’t appropriate, you can contact us to make a complaint of discrimination.

If you are treated unfairly because you have made a complaint of discrimination or because you have provided evidence or information about a complaint, this is known as victimisation and is also against the law.

​Do you have a question about discrimination? 

Contact our enquiry service.