Research confirms continued discrimination against pregnant women

Each year about 30,000 working women are sacked, made redundant or leave their jobs due to pregnancy discrimination, according to research findings by the Equal Opportunities Commission (EOC).

The research quantifies how many pregnant women and new mothers say they are experiencing discrimination in workplaces across the country.

Of the 441,000 women are pregnant at work each year, the EOC’s research report reveals that:

  • Overall almost half (45 per cent) of women who had worked while pregnant said they experienced some form of discrimination because of their pregnancy
  • 21 per cent said they lost out financially due to discrimination
  • 5 per cent were put under pressure to hand in their notice when they announced their pregnancies.

The results are released as the EOC launches its ‘Pregnant and Productive’ campaign calling for urgent action to end unlawful treatment of pregnant women at work.

Julie Mellor, who chairs the Equal Opportunities Commission, said women should not be penalised for being pregnant.

“Although some employers knowingly flout the law, many businesses do face genuine challenges in managing pregnancy and simply don’t know what their responsibilities are or what help is available to them,” she said.

“We need urgent action from the Government to provide more information and support for pregnant employees and their employers.”

The EOC is calling for two main changes to help employers and employees manage pregnancy at work more effectively.

It wants the Government to:

  • provide a written statement of maternity rights and employer responsibilities to every pregnant woman, with a tear-off section for her to give to her employer
  • give employers a ‘right to request’ employees to indicate their planned return date much earlier during maternity leave where possible

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