Pregnant women and new mums targeted for redundancy

Employers are unfairly targeting pregnant women and new mothers for redundancy during the recession, a new campaign group has said.

The Alliance Against Pregnancy Discrimination in the Workplace has revealed a sharp increase in the number of women consulting lawyers or calling helplines after losing their jobs during maternity leave or pregnancy.

Working Families, one of the members of the new Alliance, said calls to its helpline included cases of women being dismissed on the day they inform employers of their pregnancy, women on maternity leave being denied first refusal on alternative vacancies after being made redundant, and employers refusing to allow women to come back off maternity leave to a part-time role.

Sarah Jackson, chief executive of the think-tank Working Families, told Personnel Today: “As a result of the recession pregnant women are being discriminated against more for redundancies as employers believe women going on maternity leave are good candidates for the chop.”

The alliance, which also includes the Fawcett Society and Maternity Action, has called for employers to adhere to the law that making women redundant on the grounds of pregnancy is illegal, and for pregnant employees to be given more information about their rights.

In March, the Fawcett Society said the impact of the recession on the recruitment and retention of women had highlighted the need for quotas to boost female representation at board level.

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