HR calls for simplified pregnancy regulations

HR professionals have called for simplified legislation and a single code of employer practice to help organisations manage pregnant staff.

In exclusive research from Personnel Today and the Equal Opportunities Commission (EOC), which questioned almost 1,500 HR professionals, 96 per cent of respondents said harmonising the law so that all the relevant provisions come under a single piece of legislation would be helpful.

The survey also showed that 97 per cent of respondents believe the creation of a single code of practice for employers to cover all the legal rights and responsibilities relating to pregnancy and maternity would help them manage pregnant staff.

Some sort of outside help is clearly required, with more than three-quarters of the HR professionals responding saying that line managers’ lack of knowledge about the rights of pregnant women has an adverse impact on their organisation’s ability to manage pregnancy in the workplace.

More worryingly, three in 10 respondents believe a lack of knowledge by HR about pregnancy rights has an adverse impact on the management of staff.

Julie Mellor, chair of the EOC, said: “This survey gives us a good indication of HR’s views on what’s currently going wrong – and what could be done to make pregnancy at work a more positive experience for employers and employees. It’s clear that HR professionals want more help in managing pregnancy, especially when it comes to understanding and implementing the law.

“The EOC will be taking these views seriously as we put together our final recommendations from the investigation,” she added.

Gathering evidence

– The Personnel Today/EOC research 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 secretary of state for trade and industry Patricia Hewitt in March 2005.

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