North Ayrshire & Arran MP, Patricia Gibson, has raised concerns over the issue of ‘maternity discrimination’ in the workplace – a problem experienced by many new mothers, according to a new study.
The study of 3,200 women, carried out by the Equality and Human Rights Commission found that 11% of the women interviewed reported having been dismissed, made compulsorily redundant where others in their workplace were not, or were treated so poorly they felt they had to leave their jobs.
Extrapolating these figures across the entire working population shows that as many as 54,000 women are at risk of losing their jobs each year in the UK.
Commenting on the findings, Patricia said:
“It is remarkable that in the21st century women are being forced out of work, simply because they become pregnant. Not only are women being prevented from achieving their full potential, but short-sighted businesses are missing out on a wealth of female talent.
“Of course, many employers provide excellent support to new mums and find ways to ensure female staff can have a family and work. However, these figures provide a stark reminder that there are still plenty of dinosaurs out there and I have called on the UK Government to ensure that all new mothers enjoy full and robust protection when returning to the workplace in the light of this research.
“I will be lodging an Early Day Motion in the first day of the new Parliamentary term on 07 September highlighting this important issue.”
Belinda Phipps Chair of the Fawcett Society, which campaigns for workplace equality between women and men in the UK added:
“It is deeply troubling that the number of women being forced out of their jobs through pregnancy discrimination has doubled since 2005. Women who experience discrimination at this time are less likely to return to work after the birth, resulting in a huge loss of skills and talent from the UK workforce.”
Campaigners have urged the UK Government to implement changes and enforce existing legislation, to protect female employees. Measures proposed include doubling the amount of time a woman has to take a claim to an employment tribunal, Scrapping the £1200 tribunal fees, investment in advice for pregnant women and the launch of a public information campaign to improve employers’ and employees’ awareness of maternity discrimination and employee rights.