More than seven in 10 pregnant women treated unfairly at work are suffering in silence, according to a report released today from the Equal Opportunities Commission.
Women sacked for being pregnant are losing out on £12m in statutory maternity pay every year and replacing these women costs employers £126m every year, the commission’s investigation found.
The Equal Opportunities Commission is calling for the government to act to support employers and ensure fair treatment for pregnant women with three key recommendations:
- The provision of a written statement of maternity rights and responsibilities to every pregnant woman at her first antenatal visit, with a tear-off copy to hand to her employer
- Employers to be given a ‘green light’ to ask women to give a clear indication of their planned date of return from maternity leave, where this is possible
- Greater support for business, specifically financial support for micro employers and access to HR support for small employers
Jenny Watson, acting chair of the Equal Opportunities Commission, said employers – particularly small businesses – need more help in managing pregnancy at work if they are to reap the benefits of retaining pregnant staff.
More than a quarter of businesses cannot name a single maternity entitlement, she said.
Trade and industry secretary Alan Johnson said he would consider the Equal Opportunities Commission recommendations alongside the responses to the Work and Families consultation and would announce conclusions in the autumn.
Personnel Today’s One-Stop Guide to Managing Pregnancy at Work provides a practical framework for best practice. Supported by the Equal Opportunities Commission, the guide provides everything HR needs to know to take a positive approach to managing pregnancy and improve return-to-work rates. To obtain your copy of the guide click here