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    Employers discriminating against women who may go onto have children

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    A YouGov poll for the Young Women’s Trust has revealed that one in 10 (10 per cent) HR managers say they would be reluctant to hire a woman they thought may go on to start a family.

    While it is illegal to ask women whether they have children or plan to start a family during recruitment, one in five HR managers (19 per cent) said that being pregnant or having young children negatively affects a woman’s chances of progression or promotion.

    The new research also suggests that the pressures of increased caring responsibilities in the last year are not being met with greater flexibility from employers. More than one in eight (12 per cent) of female HR managers said they were aware of women with caring responsibilities being refused flexible or part-time working.

    17 per cent of HR managers agreed that pregnancy within the first year of employment is frowned upon within their organisation, a view reflected in the policies of many employers, who will not give Statutory Maternity Leave to women who become pregnant within their first 26 weeks in an organisation.

    These findings follow on from earlier research from Young Women’s Trust in November 2020, which found that in a survey of 2,000 young women in England and Wales aged 18 to 30 almost a quarter (23 per cent) of young women with children said they had been discriminated against because of being pregnant, on maternity leave or returning to work after maternity leave.

    Young Women’s Trust communications and campaigns director Joe Levenson said: “Women continue to face discrimination in the workplace, being penalised purely because they have children or may go on to have them.  There must be no place for such discriminatory and unlawful behaviour, which not only has a devastating impact on women’s careers and finances but which also continues to lock talented women out of key roles in too many workplaces.

    “This is not an issue which will fade with the reopening of schools, but a deeper problem of entrenched discrimination and outdated attitudes to working women with children. Our findings make the case even stronger for the tough enforcement of mandatory gender pay gap reporting, ensuring better data collection on protected characteristics and wider use of Equality Impact Assessments. Without such measures, we risk turning the clock back on gender equality in the workplace.”


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    Lisa Carter

    All stories by: Lisa Carter