EOC to probe abuse of pregnancy rights

The Equal Opportunities Commission is launching an investigation into the
problem of pregnancy and maternity discrimination in the workplace.

The EOC decided there was an urgent need for the investigation after its
helpline received more calls about pregnancy and maternity discrimination than
any other sex discrimination issue over the last few years.

The helpline highlighted a range of problems that many pregnant women face
in the workplace, such as missed promotion, change of salary terms or hours,
non-payment of bonus, downgraded appraisals, disciplinary action over
performance and even dismissal.

Research results released for the launch of the investigation yesterday
reveal that 21 per cent of 1,200 people polled know someone who has experienced
problems at work as a result of being pregnant.

Fiona Cannon, head of equality at Lloyds TSB, who is chairing the external
advisory group leading the investigation, said the EOC wanted to hear from
employers about the difficulties of managing pregnancy at work.

"This investigation is an important opportunity for us to examine the
problems faced by employers and expectant mothers in managing pregnancy at
work," she said.

Cannon said that good communication was a vital part of Lloyds TSB’s
approach to managing pregnancy to ensure staff are aware of their rights and to
enable women on maternity leave to stay in touch with what is happening at the

"It is very easy for someone on maternity leave to feel cut off and
distant from work so it is important to make sure they know the company is
still concerned about them," she added.

Lloyds TSB gives all pregnant employees a booklet outlining their rights and
options and sends out a newsletter and internal magazine to anyone on maternity

The advisory group will put together a number of recommendations following
the 18-month investigation.

Employers can contribute their views to the EOC’s investigation by sending
an e-mail to: pregnantatwork@eoc.org.uk

Weblink www.eoc.org.uk

By Ben Willmott

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