Cuts to the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) of 30 per cent will hamper the government’s ability to implement the findings of today’s (Wednesday 31 August) House of Commons report into pregnancy and maternity discrimination, warned Britain’s largest union, Unite.
Echoing many of the findings, Unite called on the government to implement the recommendations of the House of Commons Women and Equalities select committee and go further by abolishing all employment tribunal fees, which since their introduction have led to a fall in applications on pregnancy discrimination.
Unite also demanded action on the ‘shocking ease’ with which employers can make pregnant women redundant highlighted in the report, combined with tougher action against ‘rogue employers’ and the abuse of agency workers.
Commenting Unite equalities officer Siobhan Endean said: “The ability of the government to implement many of the committee’s recommendations will be hampered by deep cuts to the EHRC rendering the commission toothless in the face of bad bosses.
“If government ministers are serious about tackling pregnancy and maternity discrimination then their warm words need to be matched by action.
“Ministers need to recognise that the EHRC has a pivotal role in investigating employers who flout the law and reconsider the disastrous introduction of employment tribunal fees, which have restricted access to justice for so many women suffering discrimination.
“The government needs to go further and faster than the committee’s report in tackling the shocking ease with which employers can make pregnant women redundant.
“It needs to tackle the abuses faced by many pregnant agency and zero hours contracts workers who can be put out of work because of the lack of workplace protections.
“A failure to do so will do little to breach the stubborn gender pay gap or smash the glass ceiling which stops many women fulfilling their potential in the world of work.”
For further information please contact Unite head of media and campaigns Alex Flynn on 020 3371 2066 or 07967 665869.
Notes to editors
Unite is Britain and Ireland’s largest trade union with over 1.4 million members working across all sectors of the economy. The general secretary is Len McCluskey.