Pregnant women face work discrimination and layoffs

A maternity rights charity has claimed that the Government is failing to defend expecting women from losing their jobs.

Evidence from the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) showed that there are no sufficient laws in the UK to prevent pregnant women from being made redundant. Although some employers actively try to avoid laying off their expecting employees, according to the current UK laws, pregnant women are meant to be treated the same way as the other employees when it comes to being made redundant.



Pregnant at work. Graphic design by Ieva Sulavaite


As reported by the Guardian, the Maternity Action charity claimed that ministers pledged to review report on pregnancy and maternity discrimination in January, but have failed to address the issue since.

Conservative MP Margot James approached the matter by saying: “The fact that women face discrimination in the workplace as a result of pregnancy or for taking maternity leave is wholly unacceptable and unlawful.”

“We are determined to build an economy that works for everyone. This includes ensuring that pregnant women and new mothers are supported in work, where they have made that choice, and that they are treated fairly,” the Government responded in the report on pregnancy and maternity discrimination.

The latest updates on the research conducted by EHRC in 2016, Pregnancy and Maternity Related Discrimination and Disadvantage, “cover the views and experiences of employers and mothers on a range of issues related to managing pregnancy, maternity leave and mothers returning to work”.

The results found were based on interviews conducted with 3,034 employers and 3,254 mothers. The research found that:

  • 11% of mothers were made redundant or dismissed, were treated poorly to the extent where they were pressured to leave their job
  • One in five mothers experienced negative comments related to pregnancy, harassment and judgments on their working flexibility
  • 10% of mothers felt discouraged by their employer to attend antenatal care appointments


An EHRC spokesperson told the Voice of London: “Our 2016 research revealed worrying levels of discrimination and disadvantage at work for women that is not only unlawful but also bad for business. We made a range of recommendations including calling on Government to ensure women could access justice by extending the time limit for tribunal claims. We are playing our part in combatting this through launching a national initiative, Working Forward, to raise awareness of the issue, and the law, and to help businesses and other groups to find practical solutions.”

The Maternity Action charity was unavailable for a comment.


Words: Ieva Sulavaite | Subbing: Pamela Machado






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