Pregnancy discrimination in the workplace

Pregnancy discrimination in the workplace

A new report launched to fight pregnancy discrimination in the workplace says problems are increasing with the number of women forced out of their jobs, either because of pregnancy or being on maternity leave, doubling in the past year.

The charity Maternity Action, which commissioned the research, says that about 60,000 women suffer discrimination annually, adding that the government’s introduction of tribunal fees has had a negative impact, deterring many from taking legal action against their employers.

The charity’s figures show that a third of those losing their jobs unfairly and winning at a tribunal do not receive any compensation at all, while since 2008 about a quarter of a million women have been forced out of their job for being pregnant or for taking maternity leave.

The report states that the problem has increased since the recession and the rise in more precarious forms of employment such as zero-hours contracts. It accuses the government, far from getting tough on rogue employers, of making it easier for them to get away with it.

Maternity Action wants to see up-front tribunal fees scrapped and says there should be naming and shaming of bad employers. Director Rosalind Bragg said that having women continue to be in the workforce during their childbearing years is fundamental to gender equality.

The government has already announced a project to look at the scale of pregnancy and maternity discrimination in the workforce, which will be undertaken by the Equalities and Human Rights Commission.