Warnings about discrimination against pregnant women by the Equal Opportunities Commission do not paint an accurate picture of the whole business community, according to the British Retail Consortium.
Each year about 30,000 working women are sacked, made redundant or leave their jobs due to pregnancy discrimination, the EOC said earlier this week.
It reported that 45 per cent of the 441,000 women who are pregnant at work each year said they experienced some form of discrimination and 21 per cent said they had lost out financially.
But Kevin Hawkins, director general of the British Retail Consortium, said: “The retail sector, while continually striving to improve, values all employees, and retailers will always try to lead good practice and keep up to speed with any new legislation affecting pregnant employees.”
However, smaller retailers sometimes struggle to keep up with legislation, he added.
It is important to bear in mind that the differences between small and large retailers’ company policies can be significant and the raft of recent employment legislation will always present more of a challenge for smaller retailers, he said.
Other industry sectors can use retail as a best-practice sector on the management of women, Hawkins said.
“The retail industry has always attracted a diverse workforce and will always be especially attractive to women because of the great flexibility offered and the change-accommodating attitude,” he said.
“The fact that retail is the second largest employer of women is testimony to that.”