This month we’ve launched a campaign to help stamp out maternity discrimination in the workplace. Our Head of Employment,Yunus Lunat, details how important this campaign is and how he hopes it will encourage more women to come forward.
Tell us about the #DiscriminateNoMum campaign…
The #DiscriminateNoMum campaign hopes to raise awareness around maternity discrimination and encourage victims to come forward to help us, help them. It’s one of those things that no-one really wants to talk about for fear of what the impact may be. New mothers, or those currently pregnant, often feel they have enough to think about and might play down a situation where they have been discriminated against to avoid further confrontation and stress with their employer, but in today’s society we shouldn’t be reading statistics such as the fact 1 in 9 mothers feel forced to leave their job. We hope that our campaign will help give mums confidence that they can come forward, confidentially.
How important is it to you that we raise awareness of maternity discrimination?
It is still a huge issue in 2017, more than 40 years after the introduction of the Sex Discrimination Act. Of all the discrimination strands it is the area where we receive the most enquiries.
Are some women more susceptible to discrimination than others, i.e. managers as opposed to shop floor staff?
In my experience senior and especially middle managers are more susceptible, presumably because they are seen as replaceable and dispensable.
What are the signs of discrimination a new mum needs to be aware of when she returns to work?
Indicators include not being provided with much work upon return from maternity or the same type of work and possible isolation (not sure about this question as in most cases dismissal (usually under the guise of redundancy takes place whilst on maternity leave)
Can you also help educate employers on how to make sure they acting in their employee’s best interests?
Employers should ensure the member on maternity leave is kept in the loop of any developments and make use of Keeping in Touch Days. Importantly, if there are any vacancies that arise whilst the staff member is on maternity leave then ensure she is informed and given an opportunity to apply.
Are women reluctant to come forward with their case?
In many instances yes, due to the problems of proving discrimination, and more so the stress, uncertainty and costs involved. Maternity is a difficult and stressful time as it is without the challenges of losing the security of employment.
Are any maternity discrimination cases ever seen as simple to resolve?
Rarely, if ever are such cases easy.
Can some cases be resolved without needing a solicitor?
Theoretically yes, but it is always better to get advice upon your rights and potential value of any claim, so that an informed decision may be arrived at.
Can maternity discrimination apply to men as well? Is paternity discrimination on the rise?
Yes, there has been a recent case of a father succeeding with a sex discrimination complaint for failure to pay enhanced shared parental pay in circumstances where the employer would have paid enhanced maternity pay.
What one piece of advice would you give someone that might be concerned they are a victim of maternity discrimination?
Get early advice before you accept any termination proposals, so that you are able to make an informed choice.
For expert legal advice on maternity discrimination, get in touch with Yunus today.