Legal blindspot hinders positive view of pregnancy

The
majority of employers have positive attitudes to pregnancy in the workplace,
but lack awareness and understanding of their legal obligations, according to
new research by the Equal Opportunities Commission (EOC).

The
research into the knowledge and attitudes of 450 employers was carried out as
part of ‘Pregnant and Productive’, the first ever investigation into pregnancy
discrimination in the workplace.

The
EOC is taking evidence from employers, trade unions and advisers as well as
from women who have experienced problems at work due to their pregnancy. It
will make recommendations to Patricia Hewitt, secretary of state for trade and
industry in March 2005.

As
part of the investigation, Personnel Today and the EOC are joining forces to
discover your views on managing pregnancy in the workplace (see below).

The
EOC’s initial research, out today, shows that while virtually all employers
agreed that ‘women working for this organisation are positively supported
during pregnancy and on return to work’, many employers are slipping up.

For
example, 28 per cent said it is not worth training a pregnant woman, despite
the fact that denial of training on the grounds of pregnancy is against the
law.

Jenny
Watson, deputy chair of the EOC, said many organisations handle pregnancy
positively, and as a result see business benefits, such as better retention
rates and increased productivity. "Yet the results of our new research
suggest that significant numbers of employers have limited knowledge of the
law," she said.

"Our
consultation gives employers a chance to have their say. We will use their
feedback to help shape our final recommendations.

Win
an iPod MP3 player

The
EOC and Personnel Today want your views on issues regarding the management of
pregnancy in the workplace.

Your
help could shape future legislation. Responses will be treated in the strictest
confidence and will not be linked to you or your organisation.

Names
will be included in a prize draw to win one of two fantastic iPod mini MP3
players.

To
take part in the survey click here, http://b2bresearchonline.com/PTODPregnant 

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