54,000 women a year may lose their jobs due to pregnancy or maternity, according to research from the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS).
New rules set out by the government aim to further protect pregnant women and new parents, returning to work after having children, from unfairly losing their jobs.
BEIS have published a consultation that proposes the legal protection against redundancy for pregnant women and new mothers on maternity leave, is extended so that it continues for up to six months after they return to work.
It will also seek views on affording the same protection to parents returning from adoption leave or shared parental leave.
Research commissioned by BEIS, found one in nine women said they had been fired or made redundant when they returned to work after having a child, or were treated so badly they felt forced out of their job.
Prime Minister Theresa May said: “People in this country already benefit from some of the most rigorous workplace standards in the world, including parental leave and pay entitlements, but we are determined to do even more as we leave the EU.
“It’s unacceptable that too many parents still encounter difficulties when returning to work. These proposals are set to provide greater protection for new parents in the workplace, and put their minds at ease at this important time.”
BEIS said this move goes further than the current EU requirements on maternity entitlements and parental leave, showing that the UK is going even further in its commitment to workers’ rights and meeting the challenges of the changing world of work.
Reward Strategy want to know if the length, and some may say lack, of maternity leave in the UK could be driving discrimination against women on their return to work. Have your say here.
Kelly Tolhurst, business minister, said: “Pregnancy and maternity discrimination is illegal. But some new mothers still find unacceptable attitudes on their return to work which effectively forces them out of their jobs.
“Through the modern industrial strategy and the largest upgrade in workers’ rights in a generation, the government is building an economy that ensures everyone can progress at work. That’s why we are looking at ways to further protect new parents by giving them time to re-establish themselves in the workplace and show the value they bring to their employers.”
Justine Roberts, Mumsnet founder, said: “Mumsnet users talk a lot about pregnancy and maternity discrimination, and in a 2018 survey 96 percent of women we surveyed said having children affected mothers’ careers for the worse.
“It’s a multifaceted problem requiring a change in attitude and culture as well as legislation, but stronger legal protection is a very welcome first step.”
Respond to the consultation, by April 5 2019, here.