Over three quarters of pregnant women and new mothers are experiencing negative treatment at work, according to new research.
This figure is up from around 45 per cent in 2005, according to a report from the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC).
As much as 11 per cent of women are forced out of their jobs following their maternity leave by being dismissed, made redundant or treated so badly that they feel they have to leave.
Rebecca Hilsenrath, chief executive of the EHRC, said: “Women working in more precarious roles are more likely to lose their jobs as a result of becoming pregnant, they are more likely to be held back from reaching their potential and contributing to the economy, and that of course costs the state.”
Pushing mothers out of work after they give birth is costing British businesses £280 million according to the equality watchdog.
Ms Hilsenrath said: “This is a very important report that shows if you force out a member of your workforce because of pregnancy it actually costs you much more.
“There is not just a moral and legal case for retaining women who are coming back to work, but a very strong financial case.”
Only one per cent of the 54,000 women who lose their jobs following maternity leave make a claim in the employment tribunal to try and redress their loss.
Claims for maternity and pregnancy discrimination currently need to be taken within three months less one day, but the EHRC is calling for the UK Government to extend this time limit to six months.