Our Employment Law Specialist, Deborah Francis, examines the issues with Pregnancy Discrimination.
Pregnancy Discrimination is still widespread according to a research report published by the charity Maternity Action.
Maternity Action found that the number of women that are being forced out of their jobs because they are either pregnant or on maternity leave has doubled in the last decade.
The charity claim that one in three of those that pursued a claim to an Employment Tribunal are paid no compensation at all and only four in ten awards that are made end up actually being paid. They also claim that as many as 250,000 women have been forced out of their job as a result of being pregnant or taking maternity leave since 2008.
The Equality and Human Rights Commission have similar evidence that shows that women are subjected to discrimination simply for being pregnant or for exercising the right to take maternity leave. However, they have stated that they would prefer to conduct their own investigation as their most recent data is from 2005.
After 10 years of conducting discrimination cases, I believe the charity’s findings are right. I have represented a number of women who have found themselves either being unfairly selected for redundancy whilst they are on maternity leave or, have been dismissed after they apply for a flexible working arrangement when they return to work.
The Impact on Businesses
Businesses are often concerned about their obligations towards pregnant women employees and the impact that complying with these obligations will have on their business. Some will even go as far as it can to avoid employing women of child-bearing age altogether or try to find fair grounds to dismiss women when they become pregnant in order to try and avoid complying with their employment law obligations.
The law in this area has become quite complicated and employers, particularly those whom do not have dedicated HR resources, frequently find it difficult to manage and comply with its obligations in this area. The introduction of the Shared Parental Leave Regulations may offer flexibility to parents but, they may also add to the administrative burden that is placed on businesses.
If you are an employee who requires advice on your rights and entitlements in this area or believe you may be subject to discrimination, I can help. Alternatively if you are an employer that needs assistance in complying with this complex legislation, then please contact me for assistance.
If you would like to speak to an Employment Law Specialist in our Civil Litigation Team, then call us today on 01273 604123 or email.