Skip to content Skip to footer

What to do if you don't get your maternity rights

This advice applies to Scotland

There are steps you can take if:

  • you have problems getting your maternity rights
  • you’re treated badly for asking for your maternity rights
  • you’re treated badly for any reason connected to your pregnancy or maternity

It’s important to start these steps as soon as you can. You only have 3 months minus one day from the date of your dispute if you need to take legal action.

You’ll need to follow a different process if:

Step 1: talk to your employer

Start by talking to your employer. You could go to the human resources (HR) department, if there is one.

Ask your employer to explain their decision, and show them any evidence you have of your situation, such as emails from your manager. Tell your employer your rights - you can check your rights when you’re pregnant at work or your rights on maternity leave if you need to know more.

Not all employers know your full maternity rights - explaining the law to them might change their mind. It can help to show them online information describing your rights.

Contact your nearest Citizens Advice for more advice on negotiating with your employer.

Check if you’ve been discriminated against

If you think you’ve been treated badly because you’re pregnant or on maternity leave, it might be maternity discrimination.

Speak to a trade union

If you’re in a trade union, it can help to talk to them first. Ask for their support before you approach your employer.

If you’re not in a union, find out if there’s one you can join. Some unions might not help with a problem from before you joined, but it’s worth checking. You might find details in your staff handbook or on noticeboards.

Step 2: write to your employer

If talking to your employer doesn’t solve the problem, write to them informally explaining your situation. You should mention:

  • what’s happened
  • how your employer can solve the problem
  • what maternity rights you have
  • if you think you’ve been discriminated against

Include copies of any evidence, such as emails or letters from your manager.

You can raise a grievance formally if your letter doesn’t get the response you’re hoping for. Your grievance letter should contain similar information to your first letter, but might be looked at by someone more senior.

Contact your nearest Citizens Advice if you need help writing to your employer.

Step 3: ask Acas to help you reach an agreement

If your grievance doesn’t get the result you want, you can start ‘early conciliation’. This is a chance to resolve your dispute without the stress of a tribunal claim. Early conciliation is organised by Acas, an independent organisation that can help you and your employer reach an agreement.

You need to apply for early conciliation by 3 months minus one day from the date of the decision you disagree with. For example, if on 2 September your employer refuses to check your safety at work, you need to apply for early conciliation by 1 December.

You can apply for early conciliation on the Acas website. You can also call Acas.

Acas early conciliation team
Telephone: 0300 123 1122
Monday to Friday, 8am to 8pm
Saturday, 9am to 1pm

Calls cost 12p a minute from a landline, and from 3p to 45p a minute from a mobile.

You need to apply for early conciliation before you can take your employer to an employment tribunal. If you can’t reach an agreement at early conciliation Acas will give you a certificate that lets you take your employer to an employment tribunal.

You can find out more about early conciliation or contact your nearest Citizens Advice if you need help.

If you’ve been refused paid time off for an antenatal appointment

The early conciliation deadline is different if you’ve been refused paid time off for an antenatal appointment.

You’ll need to apply by 3 months minus one day from the date of the appointment that was refused - not from the date when your employer refused.

Step 4: take your employer to an employment tribunal

After Acas early conciliation, your final option is to take your employer to an employment tribunal.

You can only do this if you’ve tried early conciliation and didn’t reach an agreement.

You have at least a month after the end of early conciliation to start a tribunal claim - get more detail on the deadline.

Contact your nearest Citizens Advice if you’re thinking of making a tribunal claim, as it can be challenging.

Did this advice help?