The current climate of job insecurity and the hiking of employment tribunal fees are adding to the reluctance of women in the workplace objecting to pregnancy discrimination, Unite, the country’s largest union, said today (Friday 24 July).
Unite was commenting on new research by the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) suggesting that about 54,000 new mothers may be forced out of their jobs in the UK each year.
Unite national officer for equalities Siobhan Endean said: “The UK is currently riven by job insecurity.
“There is also an epidemic of zero hours contracts, which impact on workers - there are an estimated 1.2 million such contracts.
“These two factors contribute to the reluctance of women to object to pregnancy discrimination – a phenomenon that should not exist in 2015.”
The EHRC research is based on a survey of more than 3,200 women, in which 11 per cent of the women interviewed reported having been dismissed, made compulsorily redundant where others in their workplace were not, or treated so poorly they felt they had to leave their jobs.
If replicated across the population as a whole, this could mean as many as 54,000 women losing their jobs each year.
Siobhan Endean said: “This welcome research points to a number of measures that should be brought into play to eradicate pregnancy discrimination.
“Employment tribunal fees, which were hiked up to about £1,200 by the last government, are a barrier to access to justice, if you feel you have been discriminated against because you are pregnant. These fees should be abolished.
“There should be stronger rights for workers to return to work flexibly or part-time, as well as better pay for parental leave, so that fathers can take shared parental leave.
“Employers should root out pregnancy discrimination and ensure they have decent maternity pay and leave policies in place to support new mothers and enable them to return to work.
“Women should get better information about their rights, and this is where trade unions can help by providing representation and support on maternity leave and pay policies.”
Notes to editors:
For more information please contact Unite senior communications officer Shaun Noble in the Unite press office on 020 3371 2060 or 07768 693940.
- 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.