Retail industry split over treatment of pregnant women

A
survey which painted a bleak picture of the treatment of pregnant women in the
retail sector has sparked a row between the sector’s main union and the
employers’ body for the sector.

The
poll by the union of shop, distributive and allied workers (Usdaw) claimed that 62 per cent of women reported a
negative change in attitude of their employer towards them during pregnancy. A
quarter of respondents told Usdaw
they were made to feel marginalised and were ignored.

However,
the British Retail Consortium (BRC) said the survey does not offer an accurate
picture of attitude and practice within the industry. The BRC said the survey
failed to recognise the diversity of the retail sector, and gave no indication
of the size of the retailers in question.

Kevin
Hawkins, BRC director general, said: “The differences between small and large
retailers in terms of company policies can be significant and [implementing]
employment legislations will always prove more of a challenge for smaller
retailers.

"The
retail industry has always attracted a diverse workforce and will always be
especially attractive to women because of the great flexibility offered and a
change-accommodating attitude that inspired the NHS to look at retail as the
best practice sector when developing policies to attract women back to work,”
he said. “The fact that retail is the second largest employer of women is
testimony to that."

Michael Millar 

 

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