Louise calls for “tough new laws” as discrimination doubles for pregnant women at work
Sheffield MP Louise Haigh has today called for tough new laws to protect women who suffer from pregnancy & maternity-related discrimination at work after a near doubling to 54,000 of the number of women being made redundant, dismissed or treated so poorly they had to leave their job following announcement of their pregnancy.
The findings from the Equalities and Human Rights Commission also found that up to half of new mothers found pregnancy had a negative impact on their careers and more than 20% have experienced some form of discrimination.
The problem is most profound in the care, retail and leisure sectors and where workers find themselves on zero hours or agency contracts. These women do not have the same pregnancy or maternity rights as regular employees and as many as 50% of women on zero-hours contracts found a risk to their health & safety once they became pregnant.
Yet even in clear cut cases of discrimination, many women cannot afford justice due to the introduction of £1,200 tribunal fees.
The Sheffield Heeley MP has today called for the unfair fees to be abolished and for maternity-related rights such as time off for pre-natal classes and maternity leave to be guaranteed for all workers and for an individual risk assessment to be conducted by employers when they are told a woman is pregnant.
Commenting, Louise Haigh MP said:
“It is shocking that discrimination for women in the workplace is getting worse and that women are not being properly protected.”
“An urgent package of measures need to be brought forward to protect pregnant women & those on maternity leave.”
“It cannot be right that as many of 54,000 women are being forced out of work illegally after becoming pregnant but cannot seek justice because they can’t afford the £1,200 tribunal fees introduce by the Conservatives. These disgraceful fees which are pricing women out of justice should be immediately abolished by the government.”
“And too many pregnant women do not feel safe at work so we need to see individual risk assessments so women can discuss their welfare with employers and detail any concerns”.
“And for those on zero-hours or agency work and in the care, retail and leisure sector where the problem is most profound we need tough new laws to guarantee the same conditions to those tens of thousands of women as regular permanent employees. This should include guaranteed maternity leave and paid leave to attend ante-natal classes for workers currently denied them.”
“Women should be able to enter this special phase of their lives without fear and the Government must act urgently to put a stop to discrimination.”
1) The Women and Equalities Parliamentary Committee produced their report which made detailed recommendation drawing on research and statistics from the Equalities and Human Rights Commission. Details of which can be found here http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201617/cmselect/cmwomeq/90/9007.htm.
2) Tribunal fees of £1,200 for claims of discrimination were brought in by the previous Tory-led Coalition https://www.gov.uk/employment-tribunals/make-a-claim.