Tuesday, 6 September 2016

Pregnant women need a fair deal

Pregnant women and new mothers are getting an increasingly rough deal in the workplace, a Shropshire solicitor has warned.

John Mehtam leads the employment law team at Martin-Kaye Solicitors, in Telford, and he said shocking statistics showed complaints of discrimination against pregnant women had soared in the last decade.

“Figures revealed by the Commons Women and Equalities Committee suggest that more than one in ten pregnant women and new mothers were either dismissed, singled out for compulsory redundancy or left their job because of poor treatment in the workplace.

“The research showed that the number of women forced to leave their job because of pregnancy discrimination or concerns about the safety of their child had doubled over the past ten years to 54,000.

“This is just not acceptable and it’s clear that steps need to be taken to offer more protection to women who find themselves in this situation,” said John.

He welcomed the news that the Committee had proposed a new system that would ban employers from making new mothers redundant unless there were exceptional circumstances.

“The Committee also said the Government’s current approach to tackling pregnancy discrimination lacked ‘urgency and bite’, and they will be unveiling a new plan to improve working rights within the next two years.

“This is excellent news because there are record numbers of women in work across the UK and if the Government fails to address the discrimination issue now, the economy could suffer.”

John also praised the Committee’s recommendations to extend the right to paid time off to attend antenatal appointments to casual, agency and zero-hours workers, and to double the time limit on launching a pregnancy or maternity discrimination case from three to six months.

“Pregnant women and new mothers should not have to deal with the threat of having to choose between their job or their child, and a strong focused approach to handling these issues will go a long way towards easing their worries.”