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It's reasonably well known that pregnant employees are protected, but how far can that protection go? In Eversheds v De Belin, the Employment Appeals Tribunal said that the protection does not extend to artificially inflating the redundancy selection scores of those that are pregnant or on maternity leave.

In this case, the redundancy pool consisted of two people, one of whom was a woman on maternity leave. One of the selection criteria was hard to assess so Eversheds automatically gave the woman the highest score. This left Mr De Belin with the lowest overall score and a redundancy. De Belin claimed sex discriminaton and unfair dismissal.

The EAT agreed with De Belin and said that although legislation allows 'special treatment [for] women in connection with pregnancy or childbirth' it's only designed to compensate them for their condition. The legislation doesn't allow disproportionate treatment. Eversheds - a law firm that ought to have known better - should have assessed the two employees as at a time when both were working normally.

The advice is to not go any further than is necessary to protect a women in a pregnant or maternity leave state.

This was first published in May 2011

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