MP reactions to discrimination that pregnant women face at work

MP’s have reacted to the dramatic increase in the discrimination that pregnant women and new mothers face in the work place.

They have called for women being made redundant whilst they are on maternity leave to be banned. They also have said that women who are casual workers and those who are employed on zero-hour contracts should receive the same maternity leave rights as other women.

However, representatives from a think-tank have suggested that new mothers prefer the flexibility that these types of contract offer.

Maria Miller who is the former culture secretary who heads the Commons women and equalities committee, has called for Britain to adopt a system popular in Germany which prevents employers making women redundant if they are pregnant or who have returned to work after maternity leave - except in exceptional circumstances such as gross misconduct by the employee.

Mrs Miller said: ‘The economy will suffer unless employers modernise their workplace practices to ensure effective support and protection for expectant and new mums.’

As it currently stands, the approximate cost for an employment tribunal of this nature is £1,200 which MP’s consider to be too high.

Within a report researched over a ten year period it has been documented that cases of pregnancy discrimination have doubled to 54,000. This means that more than one in ten pregnant women or new mothers felt forced out of their jobs.

A spokesman for the Institute of Economic Affairs said: ‘This report is absolutely right to call for further protections against the sometimes blatant discrimination pregnant women can face in the workplace. But we must be wary of the Government using this to crack down on zero-hours contracts altogether – especially when evidence shows employees on zero-hours contracts are more likely to be satisfied with their jobs than those in full-time work. Targeting flexible contracts that pregnant women and new mothers may prefer would be counter-productive.’

Lawson-West Employment Solicitor Vaishali Thakerar comments: “This is a story that will no doubt be of interest to a lot of our clients. Please contact me or a member of the Employment team on 0116 212 1000 or 01858 445 480 if you have experienced any type of problem in the work place which relates to you being pregnant, while you were on maternity leave or returning to work.”

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