Three in four working mothers have experienced pregnancy and maternity discrimination.
As many as 390,000 women each year could be experiencing pregnancy and maternity discrimination at work in the UK.
This is based on a survey of more than 3,000 mothers and 3,000 employers from the Equality and Human Rights Commission. Yet despite the numbers being so high, only 28 per cent of those who had a negative experience at work relating to pregnancy or maternity raised the issue with their employer. Even less still raised a formal grievance (three per cent) and less than one per cent pursued a claim to employment tribunal.
Leading discrimination solicitor, Kiran Daurka, said: “Bad attitudes towards pregnancy at work are commonplace. Sadly, many women are side-lined at work after announcing their pregnancy – 12 per cent feel as if they got treated less favourably by a line manager because of their pregnancy.
“In my line of work I see a large number of women who are subjected to maternity discrimination by employers. As much as one third of working mothers felt unsupported at work during their pregnancy or upon their return to work following maternity leave. Employers should be supportive towards new parents as a happy workforce is a productive workforce.”
A representative from leading childbirth and parenting charity NCT said: “It’s outrageous that maternity discrimination in the workplace is so widespread in this day and age and it’s high time this denial of basic employment rights is stamped out.
“It’s particularly shocking that 77% of working mothers reported potentially discriminatory or negative experiences and 10% of pregnant women reported that their employer discouraged them from attending antenatal appointments, putting their health and that of their unborn child at risk.
“More flexible working practices can benefit employers and help them retain the talent and energy of this section of their workforce.”