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Workplace discrimination against new and expectant mothers rises

Posted on from Changeboard

Over 700,000 women go on maternity leave every year, with 77% feeling they could have been discriminated against in the workplace. Is it time to make your workplace more family friendly?

Citizens Advice has seen a sharp rise in the number of women seeking guidance on issues relating to maternity leave

The charity has reported a 58% increase in the number of face to face consultations in the past two years, with traffic to their pregnancy discrimination pages on their website doubling in the last 12 months.

Women are commonly turning to Citizen’s Advice for guidance on:

  • Forced redundancy after informing their employers of their pregnancy or while on maternity leave 
  • Hours reduced against their will 
  • Problems such as a diminished role of responsibility when returning to work 
  • Necessary health and safety assessments are inadequate or not carried out

Chief executive of Citizens Advice Gillian Guy said: “Employers have a duty of care to look after employees who are pregnant or on maternity leave. Pregnant women and mums who have just had a baby are protected by a whole range of rights at work. But in a growing number of cases employers aren’t playing by the rules and women are losing out.”

This follows similar research carried out In April, by the Equality and Human Rights Commission that 77% of mothers have faced a negative or possibly discriminatory experience before, before during, or after their maternity leave.

It would appear that senior management and HR directors need to improve their relations with employees on leave, by creating a family-friendly culture in which these pressures are not forced upon their employees.

Citizens Advice also believes that the government could help improve its investigation of bad practice. Guy commented: “There is an opportunity for the government to consider bringing together the expertise of all current labour market enforcement functions into one well resourced effective body to investigate bad practice. This will make it much easier for people to seek redress if they are being denied any of their employment rights.”

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