Pregnancy discrimination comes under Commission's spotlight
Concerns that women are still discriminated in the workplace because they are pregnant has galvanized The Equality and Human Rights Commission to undertake a new research project into the scale of pregnancy and maternity discrimination in the UK workplace.
Anecdotal evidence suggests that some pregnant women experience discrimination while on maternity leave or on their return to work. However, there is no up to date evidence as the most recent data goes back to 2005.
The project will investigate employers’ practices towards employees who are pregnant or on maternity leave, and these employee’s experiences in the workplace to provide evidence on the extent, causes and effects of pregnancy and maternity discrimination. This information will enable the Commission and Government to shape the most appropriate response.
The Commission proposed the project to the Department for Culture Media and Sport (DCMS) as part of a package of measures to address Equality and Human Rights, and Secretary of state Maria Miller has confirmed the funding to support this project.
Education for both employers and employees nationally will be key to tackling this issue and the Commission will assess how best to raise awareness of pregnancy and maternity rights.
Mark Hammond, chief executive of the Equality and Human Rights Commission, said: “It is very concerning that in 2013 a number of women are still being disadvantaged in the workplace just because they are pregnant. That would be unlawful discrimination and needs to be tackled.
“We will look at existing research, gather new evidence and carry out our expert analysis to establish the extent of the problem and advise on how best it can to be addressed.”