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Charities which provide advice to pregnant women and new mothers at work are launching a campaign to reduce pregnancy discrimination.
Maternity Allowance and the Alliance Against Pregnancy Discrimination are launching a #MothersWork campaign following preliminary findings released in the summer by the Equality and Human Rights Commission and the Department for Business and Skills which estimated that 54,000 women in England, Scotland and Wales lose their jobs every year because of pregnancy discrimination and that one in five pregnant women and new mothers experience harassment or negative comments from their employer or their colleagues related to their pregnancy or flexible working arrangements.
The research was based on interviews with over 3,000 mothers and 3,000 employers.
The Maternity Alliance says it regularly hears from women who have been unfairly made redundant, been refused minor adjustments to working conditions to accommodate childcare responsibilities, been forced to work in unsafe conditions or else resign, been dismissed for spurious reasons when they announce their pregnancy and been criticised for attending antenatal appointments during work hours.
It says: “We would like to think that these stories come from a few dinosaur employers who have yet to be dragged into the twenty-first century, but recent Government research shows this is not the case. Unfair and unlawful treatment of pregnant women and new mothers, or pregnancy discrimination, affects an astounding number of women. Each year, 54 000 women in England, Scotland and Wales lose their jobs because of pregnancy discrimination. That is one in nine pregnant women in the workforce. Hundreds of thousands of women experience other forms of unlawful treatment. It is spread across large employers and small businesses, public and private sectors, and across all industry types.”
Maternity Alliance says the situation has worsened, not improved, in recent years. Similar research from 2005 found that 30,000 women were forced out of work through pregnancy discrimination.
Maternity Action and the Alliance Against Pregnancy Discrimination are calling for the Government to take action to prevent pregnancy discrimination, rather than leaving it up to individual women to sort it out on their own and want to see specific plans when the EHRC/BIS’ final report is published in November.
For more information on the campaign, click here.