PARENTS

Pregnant Women And New Mothers Expected To Get Extra Legal Protection Against Discrimination At Work

'We are committing to making sure new and expectant mothers have sufficient protections.'

26/01/2017 10:11 GMT

Pregnant women and new mothers are expected to be given greater protection against discrimination in the workplace, MPs have revealed.

A consultation on “strengthening” the existing law against issues such as redundancy, will be launched “in due course”.

Business Minister Margot James said, according to the BBC: “There should be zero tolerance of discrimination against pregnant women, or women who have just given birth.

“That’s why today we are committing to making sure new and expectant mothers have sufficient protections from redundancy.” 

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James, who is MP for Stourbridge, added that the consultation’s main aim is to ensure new and expectant mothers are treated fairly by their employers. 

She added that some businesses do not abide by the current law, which is why they are now committing to tighten women’s rights. 

“It makes no business sense,” she added. “The Government is committed to taking action to tackle this problem.”

The proposed protection is expected to last from when a woman becomes pregnant until the end of her maternity leave.

James advised women in the workplace to join a union, after highlighting that the Equality and Human Rights Commission said women are treated better in workplaces that recognise trade unions. 

The Guardian reported that the plans “dismissed” calls for an extension to the three-month time limit to bringing cases to employment tribunals. It also did not respond to recommendations to lower fees for these claims.

Concerns about the consultation have been raised by Joeli Brearley, found of Pregnant Then Screwed, an organisation campaigning for changes to reduce discrimination.

“The Women and Equalities Select Committee put forward some good recommendations, but we believe this piece of legislation runs a serious risk of increasing discrimination over the long term,”she told The Huffington Post UK.

“What this recommendation doesn’t consider are the 40% of managers who say they would avoid hiring a woman of childbearing age, as dealing with maternity leave is onerous and expensive.

“This legislation places the onus back on employers and makes managing maternity even more difficult.

“The government needs to take some responsibility and show some leadership if they are serious about decreasing the numbers of women who endure pregnancy and maternity discrimination, rather than placing more pressure on businesses.”

The move comes after ministers in August 2016 called for “urgent action” from the government, to ensure there is not a further escalation in the number of pregnant women being forced out of their jobs.

They suggested greater protections for pregnant women, similar to those found in Germany.

Maria Miller, a Conservative MP, said at the time: “The economy will suffer unless employers modernise their workplace practices to ensure effective support and protection for expectant and new mums. 

“The government’s approach has lacked urgency and bite. It needs to set out a detailed plan outlining the specific actions it will take to tackle this unacceptable level of discrimination.

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