One in four young mothers in the UK has experienced discrimination when their employer found out they were pregnant, according to research by the Young Women’s Trust.
The survey found young mums also reported being discriminated against when looking for jobs with 39 per cent having been questioned in job interviews about how being a mother would affect their ability to work.
The survey backs up research by the Equality and Human Rights Commission and the (then) Department for Business, Innovation and Skills which found that six times more mums under 25 than the average reported being dismissed after informing their employer of their pregnancy. One in ten had left their employers as a result of related health and safety risks not being resolved. Twice as many young mums as mums of all ages felt under pressure to hand in their notice on becoming pregnant.
Most women who took part in the Young Women’s Trust survey said tackling discrimination is equal to or more important than childcare issues. Some 80 per cent said employers’ attitudes towards pregnant women or mothers with young children would play an important role in their search for work.
The majority of young mothers surveyed also said it was important for more jobs to be advertised with flexible hours (83 per cent) or part-time hours (81 per cent) so they could balance work with family commitments. Some 26 per cent, however, said they had had requests for flexible working related to their pregnancy or child turned down.
The survey also found that 60 per cent of young mums said their time management skills had improved since becoming a mother and 54 per cent had gained better communication skills. Budgeting skills, people skills and motivation to work also improved substantially.
Young Women’s Trust chief executive Dr Carole Easton said: “The level of discrimination that Young Women’s Trust has uncovered against young mothers who are in work or looking for jobs is shocking.
“It is in everyone’s interest to help young mothers who want to work. As our findings show, young mothers have a huge amount to contribute to their workplaces and many want to be financially independent and support their families. Tackling discrimination would benefit mums, businesses and the economy as a whole.
“Employers should value young mothers’ contributions to their workplaces and do more to accommodate them, including by offering more flexible and part-time working opportunities.”