UK Employers Have Worrying Attitudes When Employing Pregnant Women

Discrimination against pregnant women

For many women around the United Kingdom, the prospect of having children is exciting and a joyous occasion. But there are plenty of women who are unfortunately suffering from negative opinions in the workplace, particularly when it comes to employment.

New research from the Equality and Human Rights Commission revealed that many businesses still retain attitudes that are far behind what the current law states, with just over a third (36%) of the 1,106 senior decision makers in business stating that it is reasonable to ask a woman about her plans for children in the future during the recruitment process.

Alongside this are the unfortunate statistics that over half (59%) agreed that a woman should have to disclose to the employer whether she is pregnant during the process with a further 46% thinking it is reasonable to ask if they have young children already.

Antiquated Views On Pregnant Women

While these statistics relating to employing women are startling, the research, conducted by YouGov, showed that these outdated views are prevalent in the general work environment as well. Almost half of those surveyed (44%) felt that women should work for a business for at least a year before deciding to have any children while a similar number agreed that women who chose to have multiple children are a ‘burden’ on their team.

This matches the 41% of employers who felt that pregnancy is a financial burden, with it putting an ‘unnecessary cost burden’ on the workplace. While this outlines the views of businesses and those who employ workers, the research also highlighted the fact that 51% of employers felt that there is resentment from employees to pregnant women or women on maternity leave.

What Rights Do Pregnant Women Have In The Workplace?

Citizens Advice notes that pregnant women, and new mothers, have plenty of legal rights when it comes to the workplace. When pregnant, you are allowed to take paid time off in order to attend antenatal appointments that are recommended, including parenting or relaxation classes alongside medical appointments.

You are also entitled to maternity leave alongside this paid time off; no matter how long you have been employed or what hours they work. An employer cannot make you work up the extra time that you spend away. It is advisable to ask permission from your employer and there may be a rare case that they can refuse but it has to be entirely reasonable.

If you are made redundant or sacked while pregnant, and the reason is due to your pregnancy, this is classed as unfair dismissal and maternity discrimination and you could take action against your employer in an employment tribunal. You also do not have to disclose your pregnancy when applying for a job. If you are offered a job by the employer and then they change their mind once discovering you are pregnant, this is classed as maternity discrimination.

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Sarah Jubb

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