May 5, 2016
There has been a 25 percent rise in people seeking advice on pregnancy and maternity discrimination over the past year; new figures from Citizens Advice have revealed, and it has growing evidence that pregnant women and new mums have had their working hours cut, been put onto zero-hours contracts, pressured to return to work early from maternity leave and, in extreme cases, have been forced out of their jobs. New figures from the national charity also show there has been a 22 percent increase in people seeking online help, with the charity’s web advice viewed 22,000 times over the last 12 months. Between April 2015 and March 2016 almost 2,000 people turned to Citizens Advice for help with pregnancy and maternity discrimination, up from just over 1,500 in the previous 12 months. In 4 out of 5 cases people were also seeking help with problems at work, a third of which were about redundancy or dismissal.
One woman turned to her local Citizens Advice for help when her employer cut her weekly hours by more than half after she told them she was pregnant. Her boss claimed there was not enough work available to keep her on her previous hours, despite taking on new staff at the same time.
Another woman contacted her employer to find out why she hadn’t received any maternity pay. They told her they had ended her contract while she was on maternity leave.
Recent research by the Equality and Human Rights Commission revealed that over three quarters (77 percent) of mothers reported a negative or possibly discriminatory experience at work during their pregnancy, maternity leave or on their return to work.
It is against the law for bosses to discriminate against their employees by refusing to uphold their maternity rights at work, and Citizens Advice is encouraging people to seek help if they think they’re being treated unfairly by their employer.
Citizens Advice Chief Executive Gillian Guy said: “Pregnant women should be supported at work, not made to fear for their livelihood.
“It is concerning that more and more new and expectant mums are experiencing discrimination issues at work.
“People with a baby on the way will have a lot on their minds already. The last thing they need is a threat to their income or job security. All employers should respect and uphold the rights of staff who are new parents or expecting a baby.
“Anyone with concerns about pregnancy or maternity discrimination can get free, impartial advice from their their local Citizens Advice or go to www.citizensadvice.org.uk.”