Government urged to tackle maternity discrimination

The government has been urged to tackle maternity discrimination or face further increases in pregnant women and mothers being forced out of work.

The Women and Equalities Committee (WEC) recently published a submission to the government’s ongoing consultation on pregnancy and discrimination protections.

MPs told the government that it needs to develop a detailed and ambitious plan. They also called for increased protection for casual, agency and zero-hours workers, saying that the government needed to improve health and safety practices and prevent any discriminatory redundancies.

The committee highlighted the three month limit for bringing an employment tribunal claim as one issue, which has been criticised in cases of pregnancy and maternity discrimination.

The WEC published a significant report in 2016, stating that a ‘shocking’ increase in workplace pregnancy discrimination needed urgent action. Statistics revealed in the report suggest that 54,000 women face significant discrimination and poor treatment at work each year.

However, nearly three years since the publication of that report, MPs said that there are few signs of the increased rights outlined in the report.

Maria Miller, chair of the WEC, said: “At present, the burden of enforcement rests too heavily with the individual experiencing discrimination, so there must be a new mechanism to increase compliance by employers if women’s lives are to be improved.”

The WEC backed proposals to provide an extra six months of redundancy protection for new mothers upon their return to work after maternity leave. Under current rules, the redundancy protection ends as soon as a woman returns to work after maternity leave.



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Donna Martin

Donna Martin

Partner at Mackrell Turner Garrett
Donna Martin is a Partner in the Employment team at Mackrell Turner Garrett’s London office. She advises both employers and employees on a full range of contentious and non-contentious issues. As an employment law expert, Donna has significant experience in drafting employment contracts and handbooks, advising on grievance and disciplinary procedures and preparatory work prior to tribunals, including advising on the advantages and disadvantages of settling cases.