Every year thousands of mums are being forced out of work due to discrimination, according to research by the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC).
The study, carried out in conjunction with the government’s Business Department, surveyed more than 3,200 women on their workplace experiences after becoming a parent.
One in ten women interviewed claimed they had been sacked, made redundant or treated so badly they had no choice but to leave their job soon after returning from maternity leave.
Of those who had been allowed to work flexibly, 50 per cent stated they had been given fewer opportunities to progress.
Furthermore, a fifth said that they had experienced negative comments or harassment by colleagues or managers during their pregnancy or upon returning to work.
Caroline Waters, deputy chairman of the EHRC, said the research highlighted the “worrying levels” of prejudice still targeted at women in the workplace.
She said: “This research reveals the worrying levels of discrimination and disadvantage at work that women still face today. Not only is discrimination unlawful, but it is also bad for business.
“That’s why today we’re launching a major initiative to bring this issue into the public eye, improve awareness of the law and work with business and other groups to find workable solutions.”
As well as speaking to new mothers, researchers also surveyed thousands of employers to determine their views on new mothers in the workplace.
While four in five managers claimed they were supportive of female staff both during and after their pregnancies, a firm refused to disagree that pregnancy puts an “unreasonable burden” on their business.
Frances O’Grady, general secretary of the TUC union, accused companies of being “in denial” over discrimination of new parents. She has called on the government to abandon the current £1,200 fee charged to women who wish to pursue a pregnancy discrimination claim.
“Becoming pregnant should be one of the happiest times in a woman’s life, not a period of anxiety and stress,” said O’Grady.
“These findings must not be swept under the carpet. The current culture of bullying, harassment and ill-treatment that many female workers experience must be consigned to the past.”
Source: ITV News