The Women and Equalities Committee released a report on pregnancy and maternity discrimination on 31 August 2016. Ison Harrison’s Yunus Lunat, Head of Employment provides his thoughts on the committee’s findings and the suggestions they have put forward to the Government.

The research undertaken by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills and the Equality and Human Rights Commission that has underpinned the Select Committee’s report has provided a frank and stark warning to the Government. The research clearly shows that the number of women who are being subjected to pregnancy or maternity-related discrimination has increased over the last 10 years – in fact, the figure of women who feel they have been forced out of their jobs has doubled in the past 10 years.

The research established that up to 21,000 women a year leave their employment due to pregnancy and maternity-related health and safety risks that were not resolved.

It was also found that new and expectant mothers who were working under a casual, agency or zero-hour basis were more likely to leave their positions as they did not feel confident in challenging their employer’s discriminatory behaviour.

The Select Committee has put forward the following suggestions to the Government:

  • The right for workers to paid time off for antenatal appointments
  • Additional protection from redundancy for new and expectant mothers
  • Current levels of protection offered to women should be maintained and enhanced
  • Women should be provided with information relating to their maternity and employment rights early on in their pregnancy
  • The government should construct an informative website for both employers and individuals detailing their rights and responsibilities

The Select Committee found that women were not taking action in large enough numbers in order to ensure that employers complied with current discrimination laws. The Committee also criticised the Governments approach to tackling the issue, due to the approach being centred on persuading employers to comply with discrimination legislation through awareness-raising campaigns.

It is yet to be seen what action the Government will take following the report, It is however hoped that there will be a quest for improvement and a decrease in the number of women experiencing pregnancy or maternity-related discrimination at work.

If you have any queries relating to work place discrimination do not hesitate to contact me directly on 0113 284 5023 or by e-mail by clicking here. We have extensive experience of dealing with pregnancy/maternity-related discrimination cases in the tribunals.

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