Law firm launches maternity rights campaign

A leading law firm is launching a Pregnancy and Maternity Discrimination Campaign in response to criticism of the Government’s ‘lack of energy and resolve’ in tackling the issue.

Martin Searle Solicitors’ Mind the Bump 2017 campaign will run for a month and includes a free telephone advice service for employers and employees concerned about the workplace rights of pregnant women and women on maternity leave.

In 2005, the Equal Opportunities Commission carried out research which showed that more than 30,000 women had been sacked, made redundant or received unfair treatment at work due to pregnancy and maternity discrimination.

In 2015, the Equality and Human Rights Commission undertook further research, which showed that the number of women discriminated against had nearly doubled.

The Women and Equalities Committee (WEC) then made specific recommendations about how this type of discrimination could be tackled. However, critics say  the recent response by the Government has been ‘lacklustre’. Maria Miller, Chair of the WEC, expressed disappointment at the Government’s lack of ‘energy and resolve’ in tackling this issue.

Fiona Martin, Director and Head of Employment Law at Martin Searle, says: “Since we started our law firm in 2004, we have campaigned to stamp out pregnancy and maternity discrimination in the workplace. However, we have seen this type of discrimination drastically increase and know that these figures are just the ‘tip of the iceberg’. Despite the Government stating that they would take a ‘zero tolerance’ approach to discrimination they are failing to take the specific measures recommended by the WEC to try and eradicate pregnancy and maternity discrimination.

Fiona adds: “International Women’s Day on 8 March 2017 has a higher profile than ever, but women seem to be facing more injustice and intolerance rather than gaining greater rights. The fact that pregnancy and maternity discrimination is now the most common form of sex discrimination strikes at the heart of women’s economic independence and effects women of all classes and their families. It is important that we continue to educate and support employers while advising employees of their rights in order to shift cultural attitudes in the workplace. It is not surprising that the uptake for men taking Shared Parental Leave has been so low. Why would men who aspire to gain promotion risk being unfairly treated in the way they have seen their female counterparts discriminated against?

Throughout March Martin Searle Solicitors’ employment law team will provide free advice on pregnancy and maternity rights and responsibilities, Shared Parental Leave, maternity leave and return to work issues, for both employers and employees. FAQs on employment rights relating to pregnancy and maternity will also be posted on their website. They will also provide training for all charities and not-for-profit organisations in Brighton and Hove on 29 March 2017 on Managing Family Friendly and Flexible Working Rights.

*For free and confidential advice, employers and employees can call Martin Searle Solicitors’ pregnancy and maternity legal helpline Mondays and Thursdays throughout March from 4pm to 6pm on 01273 609911, or email info@ms-solicitors.co.uk.





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