Inadequate protection in the workplace for new and expectant mothers
It appears we are being bombarded with reports and statistics about how women and new mothers are being treated in workplace. Previously it was the TUC report into the increase in sexual harassment in the workplace, then we heard Citizens advice saying that new and expectant mothers are reporting increasing levels of unfair treatment at work.
Now we hear that research carried out by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) and the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) shows that pregnant women and mothers now face more discrimination at work than they did a decade ago. The Women and Equalities Committee are calling for change, but what should that look like?
Certainly knowledge in the law for both employers and employees alike could always be improved so both parties know where they stand and what protection is afforded to new and expectant mothers. A misunderstanding of the special protection afforded to new and expectant mothers can sometimes mean an employer makes a mistake or an employee fails to challenge unfair treatment.
As an employment lawyer, I advise both employer and employees on issues surrounding maternity and pregnancy discrimination and it is a topic that often arises. Employees in this situation can often feel vulnerable whilst on maternity leave and when returning to work, whilst employers can often feel overwhelmed with the amount of employment legislation.
We shall wait to see what, if any, recommendations are taken forward following this recent research, but bearing in mind how long the gender pay gap reporting framework is taking, it is doubtful that any change will be swift.