New report shows many employers are in denial about pregnancy discrimination, says TUC
Commenting on today’s (Friday) report by the Equality and Human Rights Commission, which shows that one in nine (54,000) new mothers lose their job every year as a result of their pregnancy, TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady said:
“This shocking report shows that many employers are in denial about the scale of pregnancy discrimination in their workplaces.
“Becoming pregnant should be one of the happiest times in a woman’s life, not a period of anxiety and stress.
“These findings must not be swept under the carpet. The current culture of bullying, harassment and ill-treatment that many female workers experience must be consigned to the past.
“Today’s report should also act as a wake-up call to ministers. If they want more employers to comply with the law they shouldn’t be charging women up to £1,200 to pursue a pregnancy discrimination claim.”
The TUC has published guidance on how employers can improve the experiences of pregnant women and new mothers.
The Pregnancy Test: Ending Discrimination at Work for New Mothers makes the five following recommendations:
- Employment tribunal fees should be abolished so women can afford to take their employers to court if they feel they’ve been treated unfairly because of their pregnancy or because they have recently become a mother. If employers know they are unlikely to be taken to tribunal they are likely to continue with their bad behaviour, says the TUC.
- Employers should publish return-to-work rates to see how many new mums go back to their jobs and how many are still in post a year on. They should also carry out exit interviews with any women who feel unable to go back to work, and act on the findings.
- The government should introduce better paid leave to allow dads to play a greater role in the care of their children and mothers a greater chance to progress at work.
- Flexible working must become more widespread, and men should have as much chance to work in this way as women. Flexible working should be promoted at the point of recruitment and it should be easier for parents to challenge an employer who turns down their request to work flexibly.
- Employers who are taken to a tribunal over a pregnancy or maternity-related complaint should be forced to act to improve their employment practices when they are found to have discriminated against a female employee.
NOTES TO EDITORS:
- The Pregnancy Test: Ending Discrimination at Work for New Mothers is available at: www.tuc.org.uk/sites/default/files/pregnancytestreport.pdf
- All TUC press releases can be found at www.tuc.org.uk
- Follow the TUC press office on Twitter: @tucnews