Labour Research May 2016

Equality news

Maternity bias forces mothers out

Although pregnancy and maternity discrimination is prohibited by the Equality Act 2010, a recent survey found that a shocking 11% of mothers said they had either been dismissed, made compulsorily redundant — where others in their workplace were not — or treated so poorly they felt they had to leave their job.

The study, jointly commissioned by the EHRC equality watchdog and the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, also found one in five mothers saying they had experienced harassment or negative comments related to pregnancy or flexible working from their employer and/or colleagues. And 10% of mothers said their employer discouraged them from attending antenatal appointments.

The research, Pregnancy and maternity-related discrimination and disadvantage first findings: surveys of employers and mothers, found that, overall, three in four mothers (77%) said they had a negative or possibly discriminatory experience during pregnancy, maternity leave, and/or on return from maternity leave. Half of those who requested, and were approved for, flexible working felt it resulted in “negative consequences”. 

The EHRC says the government should show leadership for change; access to justice needs to be improved for women bringing claims; and progress towards a fairer workplace should be “tracked”.

And employers should offer more family friendly workplaces; there should be better access to information and advice; and health and safety risks should be better managed.