Mind the bump: legal advice campaign aims to help mums

A campaign to stamp out maternity and pregnancy discrimination will run throughout January for both employers and employees.

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Have you been threatened with redundancy or unfair dismissal or have you experienced discrimination because of being pregnant or having children? Do you have health-related worries about Covid safety at work or about the conditions you are being forced to work in?

A law firm is running its 18th annual Mind the Bump campaign to stamp out pregnancy and maternity discrimination at work next month.

Martin Searle Solicitors is offering a free 30-minute telephone advice service every Tuesday and Thursday, throughout January 2022, for employers and employees concerned about the workplace rights of pregnant women and women on maternity leave.

The firm points to a Maternity Action survey in November 2020 which found that more than a third of pregnant women feared losing their jobs due to safety concerns about Covid.

Over two-thirds of pregnant women surveyed said they were fairly or very worried about catching Covid due to their work, and 20% of respondents said they took time off or even left their job because of concerns about being infected.

The survey found that 59% of the pregnant women surveyed had raised concerns about health and safety with their employer, but almost one in five of these said that their employer took no action to address their concerns.

Fiona Martin, Director and Head of Employment Law, says: “Pregnancy and maternity discrimination in the workplace continues to be a growing issue. During lockdown we were approached by numerous women who had been unfairly dismissed because of their pregnancy or were being unfairly selected for redundancy as they tried to return to work from maternity leave. It is even more important that we continue to educate and support employers while advising employees of their employment law rights, so that we stamp out pregnancy and maternity discrimination once and for all.”

Fiona adds: “The two most common scenarios are when a woman tells her employer she is pregnant and the employer wrongly believes that they can dismiss as she does not have two years’ service. The other is where women who are due to return from maternity leave belatedly find out that their job has ‘disappeared’ and they are being made redundant. We help women raise grievances and negotiate compensation through Settlement Agreements, to avoid lengthy, stressful and expensive Employment Tribunal claims.”

Fiona says:We need to cultivate a healthy workplace culture in the UK where taking time off to have children is not seen as a lack of commitment and pregnant working women’s’ health is protected. Our campaign aims to highlight this type of gender inequality in our workplaces, and offer practical best practice advice to employers to help make workplaces discrimination-free.

To support their campaign, Martin Searle Solicitors have produced a series of factsheets, case studies and FAQs for employers and employees covering basic pregnancy and maternity rights in the workplace, returning to work after maternity, as well as avoiding pregnancy and maternity discrimination in redundancy processes

On Thursday 20th January 2022, from 1pm – 2pm, Martin Searle Solicitors will be running a free virtual seminar on ‘Pregnancy and Maternity Leave – Best Practice for Employers’. To book, click here.

They will also be running a free virtual workshop for employee advisors and Trade Union representatives on Pregnancy and Maternity Discrimination – A Guide for Advisers on Thursday 27 January 2022 from 1- 2pm. To book, see here.

For confidential advice, employers, workers and employees can call Martin Searle Solicitors’ free pregnancy and maternity legal helpline on Tuesdays and Thursdays throughout January from 3.30pm to 5.30pm on 01273 609911, or email [email protected].

*workingmums.co.uk also has a panel of employment law experts who will advise on your employment rights. Email [email protected] with your query which they will answer. We will also publish an edited version of the Q & A taking out any identifying information so that it can help other parents in similar situations.

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