Pregnant Women Face Workplace Discrimination

According to a report released from the Equal Opportunities Commission (EOC), more than seven
in ten pregnant women in the UK were treated unfairly at work. Women fired for being pregnant
are losing out on £12m in statutory maternity pay every year and replacing these women costs
employers £126m every year. This unfair treatment and blatant discrimination not only makes it less
likely for pregnant women to return to their old jobs, it also causes long-term damage to Britain’s
economic productivity. Jenny Watson, Acting Chair of the EOC, said: “It is shocking that one
million women over the next five years could find themselves sacked, demoted, bullied or isolated at
work simply for having a baby. Pregnancy discrimination has a huge impact on their lives, but the
harm it does to our economy affects us all.” “Employers – particularly small businesses – need more
help in managing pregnancy at work if they are to reap the benefits of retaining pregnant staff. More
than a quarter of businesses cannot name a single maternity entitlement.” Our simple, practical,
recommendations should enable both pregnant women and their employers to be more confident in
negotiating maternity leave and the return to work,” said Ms. Watson.
Businesses that discriminate against pregnant women are not only breaking the law, they are also not
helping their business. Stephen Alambritis, Head of Parliamentary Affairs at the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB), said: “We welcome the report’s realistic approach to the problems faced by
smaller firms in managing pregnancy. The proposal to allow employers to ask the question about a
return date will give firms the much needed certainty they desire in running the business. Of equal
importance is the recommendation to Government for financial support for micro employers to
cover such items as recruitment costs.”