Give pregnant women greater job protection say MPs
August 31, 2016 5 comments
There has been a sharp in illegal discrimination against pregnant women, MPs have claimed.
The parliamentary Women and Equalities Committee says the number of female employees forced out of their jobs after falling pregnant or becoming mothers has nearly doubled since 2005, to 54,000. In a poll conducted by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, 11 per cent of female employees said they had been pushed out by their employers through redundancy, dismissal or poor treatment after they became pregnant.
In a newly published report, the Committee suggests a system similar to the one in Germany as a means to tackle the issue. There employers are subject to stringent rules which mean they cannot dismiss employees from the beginning of their pregnancies until four months after the birth in all but exceptional circumstances such as the company entering administration. In the UK, by contrast, while it also illegal to overtly dismiss a woman for pregnancy they can be dismissed for other reasons.
The Commons Select Committee called on the government to take action.
“Shockingly, pregnant women and mothers report more discrimination and poor treatment at work now than they did a decade ago. With record numbers of women in work in 2016, the situation is likely to decline further unless it is tackled effectively now. Urgent action and leadership is needed, but the approach that the Government is taking forward lacks urgency and bite.”
Conservative MP Maria Miller is Chair of the Committee. She predicted damage to the economy if discrimination against mothers was allowed to continue.
“The economy will suffer unless employers modernise their workplace practices to ensure effective support and protection for expectant and new mums.”
Amongst the recommendations made are measures to make taking allegations of discrimination to an employment tribunal easier, including a reduction in the court fees payable and an increase in the current time limit to six months. In addition, the report says women who work in casual and temporary positions, including zero hours contracts, also need protection when pregnant, including a defined right to attend antenatal appointments.
Business Minister Margot James said the government would treat the issues raised by the Committee as a priority.
“It is completely unacceptable that pregnant women and new mothers are apparently being forced to quit their jobs because of outdated attitudes. Tackling this issue is a key priority of mine and this government and I would like to thank the committee for its important work. We will consider its recommendations carefully and respond in due course.”
Read more here.
August 31, 2016
Categories: Family Life