52% of mums claim pregnancy or maternity discrimination

A new survey by Pregnant Then Screwed and Women in Data highlights widespread pregnancy and maternity discrimination.

Pregnant person sitting down holding bump whilst tapping on a laptop


Over half of mums say they have faced some form of discrimination when pregnant, on maternity leave or when they returned to work, according to a new survey.

The survey of over 24,000 parents by Women in Data® and Pregnant Then Screwed found that one in five mothers (19%) left their employer due to a negative experience at work. Ten per cent said they were bullied or harassed when pregnant or returning to work and 7% of women said they lost their job – through redundancy, sacking or feeling forced to leave due to a flexible working request being declined or due to health and safety issues. Some said that when they announced their pregnancy, colleagues or managers insinuated that they should have an abortion.

Ninety per cent of mums  who were breastfeeding had to use a toilet or were not provided any suitable space to do so. This is despite the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) recommending employers provide a private, healthy and safe environment for breastfeeding mothers to express and store milk.

The survey also showed that:

  • 73% of women said that a colleague made hurtful comments about their pregnancy or maternity leave
  • 74% of women said that a colleague insinuated that their performance had dipped due to pregnancy or maternity leave
  • 64% said their boss or a colleague had made inappropriate comments about their looks when pregnant
  • A third who told their employer about having an abortion felt that they experienced discrimination or were unfairly treated as a result, although the majority did not tell their employer about an abortion.

A 2018 survey of over 3,000 women by the Equality and Human Rights Commission and the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills found around one in nine mothers (11%) reported that they were either dismissed; made compulsorily redundant, where others in their workplace were not; or treated so poorly they felt they had to leave their job. It also found that one in five mothers said they had experienced harassment or negative comments related to pregnancy or flexible working from their employer and /or colleagues.

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