The Women and Equalities Committee has recently published a report on pregnancy and maternity discrimination showing that the number of expectant and new mothers forced to leave their jobs has almost doubled since 2005.
The report calls for UK women to have protections similar to those in Germany where from the beginning of pregnancy until four months following childbirth, employers can only dismiss an employee in very rare circumstances and need government approval to do so. The report also recommends:
- A substantial reduction in the £1,200 fee for women taking pregnancy-related discrimination cases to an employment tribunal.
- Increasing the three-month limit on taking cases to the tribunal to six months.
- Assurances that rights and protections would not be eroded, given the uncertainty following the vote to leave the European Union.
- A detailed plan to be published by the government within the next two years.
- Increasing protection for casual, agency and zero-hours workers.
- Protection from redundancy until six months after a return to work.
Business Minister Margot James MP has said that the government will consider the recommendations and respond “in due course”.
In similar news, on 14 September 2016, the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) announced that a number of employers, including Barclays, Royal Mail and BT, have joined the EHRC’s initiative Working forward – supporting pregnancy and maternity rights. The aim of the initiative is to eradicate discrimination against pregnant women and mothers. The founding members will encourage other businesses to follow their example by sharing their knowledge, experience and good practice with businesses which sign up.