New group claims pregnancy and maternity discrimination

A new alliance claims new mums and pregnant women are being disproportionately affected by the recession. Plus other news.

The number of pregnant women and new mothers who are being made redundant has risen significantly in the recession, according to a new alliance of groups called The Alliance Against Pregnancy Discrimination in the Workplace.

The groups involved, including Working Families, say they have seen a sharp rise in women consulting lawyers and calling helplines to complain about possible discrimination.

They warn that “the long term consequences of job loss as a result of pregnancy or maternity leave jeopardise women’s financial security for their whole lives”.

One legal firm, Leigh Day & Co, said pregnant women and new mothers appeared to be disproportionately affected by redundancy. The company has launched a dedicated helpline to offer preliminary advice to these women because of the rise in calls.

Working Mums has also seen a rise in cases of women approaching its expert panel for advice about being made redundant in pregnancy and has issued advice for those being threatened with redundancy.

Drop in childminders could spell summer childcare problems

The number of childminders has fallen by 10,000 in six years, according to the Guardian, which predicts this could spell childcare problems over the holidays.

It says early years specialists are partly blaming the introduction of the Early Years Foundation Stage Curriculum which means childminders have to teach subjects like phonics and says some claim they get little training and support to do this.

The Government says it is wrong to blame the EYFS.  The Daycare Trust called for more research, saying the drop could in part be explained by more parents opting for nurseries.

Dads in ‘conspiracy of silence’

Many dads feel indifferent towards their children when they are new born, according to a new glut of books on the subject of fatherhood, says The Observer.

It reports on men like Michael Lewis, author of Home Gatem, An Accidental Guide to Fatherhood, who say that it is expected that dads feel overjoyed at the birth of a child, but he felt bored and demoralised.

He says there is “a great conspiracy of silence” between men not to admit how they feel. He adds that paternal love is learnt while maternal love is instinctive.

Women medics will be in the majority

Women doctors will outnumber their male counterparts by 2017, according to a report by the Royal College of Physicians.

This could have massive implications for the NHS as women are more likely to work flexibly and to be concentrated in areas such as GP work, which has more family friendly hours.

More doctors will be needed if increasing numbers go part time and more help will be needed to help them progress in their careers.

The report finds, however, that women who stay working part time have more or less the same career trajectory as men. The report also states that efforts will need to be made to ensure there is not resentment by full time staff at having to cover for part time workers.

Parental leave plans shelved

Plans to allow dads to share a year of parental leave with mums have been shelved because of the recession, says the Government.

Under the proposals, announced in 2005, dads would have been able to take six months paternity leave after the mother had taken the first six months after birth off.

Pressure put on Equality Bill

A group of campaigners met in Parliament this week to call for greater action by the Government to close the gender pay gap.

The meeting, organised on Monday by The Fawcett Society and Unison, argued that the Equality Bill currently before Parliament is inadequate and needs to be strengthened.

Women students outperform men

Women outnumber and outperform men at all UK universities, according to research by the Higher Education Policy Institute.

Its director has called for steps to be taken to address boys’ underachievement and to encourage them to apply to university.

Other research out this week from workplace psychologists OPP shows women are better at making career decisions than men, who tend to rely more on chance.

Emma Thompson denounces Victorian attitudes on working mums

Actress Emma Thompson has told the Daily Express that Britain suffers from Victorian aged ideas about mothers which make it difficult for them to balance work and family life.

Flexible working has saved jobs

The ability of the British workforce to work flexibly has saved jobs, according to a new study.Research by the Keep Britain Working Campaign shows 54 per cent of employees in the UK have had a pay cut, a reduction in working hours or a loss of benefits since the recession started. James Reed, founder of the group, says the willingness of staff to consider flexible options has helped reduce job losses.

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