Many employers risk breaking pregnancy discrimination laws
Many employers are at risk of breaking pregnancy discrimination regulations despite wishing to support female staff, according to new official research.
A survey commissioned jointly by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, and the Equality and Human Rights Commission found that most employers felt it was in their interests to support pregnant women and agreed that statutory rights relating to maternity are reasonable and easy to implement.
This is broadly reflected by mothers, with two in three reporting that their employer willingly supported
their needs as both a pregnant woman and as a mother of a young baby.
However, the survey also found that one in 9 mothers said they had been dismissed, made redundant or treated so poorly that they had to leave their jobs.
One in three mothers felt their needs were not supported willingly. They described a range of potentially discriminatory acts during pregnancy, maternity leave and on return to work: These are the report’s main findings:
- One in nine mothers said they had been dismissed, made compulsorily redundant where others in their workplace were not, or were treated so badly they had to leave
- One in six mothers reported a negative impact on their health or stress levels because of negative treatment at work
- One in 10 mothers said their employer discouraged them from attending antenatal appointments
- One in 10 mothers said they were treated worse by their employer on their return to work, compared with before they had announced their pregnancy
- One in 12 mothers attending an interview while pregnant were asked during an interview if they were pregnant
- One in four employers believe that it is reasonable to ask women about their plans to have children and seven in 10 feel that women should declare upfront in an interview if they are pregnant
The report findings suggest that while most employers are sympathetic to the needs of pregnant women, many are at risk of breaking the law unwittingly.
Please contact Jackie Cuneen if you would like more information about the issues raised in this article or any aspect of employment law.