There is a "strong case" for enforcing maternity and discrimination laws to protect female workers who have children, it has been claimed.
Writing in north-east newspaper the Journal, Kevin Rowan, regional secretary at the Northern Trades Union Congress, backed proposals recently drawn up by the Fawcett Society.
In a report released by the organisation - which campaigns for equality between women and men - a number of ideas were put forward.
As well as the enforcement of current laws, the society proposed that mothers should be able to return to roles at their previous skill level and suggested that the there should be improved flexibility in senior posts.
Responding to the ideas, Mr Rowan said they seem "wholly reasonable".
He also commented: "One of the predictable outcomes from the recession will be that inequality will actually increase, it is the lowest paid, most vulnerable members of the labour market that will bear the brunt."