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    MPs demand end to pregnancy discrimination in the workplace

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    The Women and Equalities Committee has published its submission to the Government’s consultation on pregnancy and maternity discrimination protections.

    In it, the Committee calls for an end to what it calls ‘shocking stories of workplace discrimination and of the emotional, physical and financial impact on women’.

    In August 2016, the Committee published a major report on the issue, calling on the Government to give women protections after an increase in workplace pregnancy discrimination over the past decade.

    At the time MPs recommended the Government publish an ambitious, detailed plan within two years or risk a further rise in pregnant women and mothers being forced out of their work.

    It said there should be changes to health and safety practices, preventing discriminatory redundancies and an increase in protection for casual, agency and zero-hours workers.

    However, in the time since the Committee says there has been little sign of improvement – Maria Miller, Chair of the Women and Equalities Committee, has stated:

    “Our 2016 report laid bare the significant discrimination and poor treatment faced by 54,000 pregnant women and mothers at work each year.

    “There seems to be little sign of improvement, despite the Government having had three years to demonstrate the urgent action, clarity and leadership we requested.

    “I am pleased we have the opportunity to submit to the Government’s consultation on this issue.

    “Our inquiry heard shocking stories of workplace discrimination and of the emotional, physical and financial impact on women.

    “On World Maternal Mental Health Day, we call for the introduction of company reporting of maternity retention rates.

    “At present, the burden of enforcement rests too heavily with the individual experiencing discrimination so there must be a new mechanism to increase compliance by employers if women’s lives are to be improved.

    “We are disappointed that the Government has once again failed to take action regarding the prohibitively short three month time limit for bringing an employment tribunal claim, despite significant public and parliamentary support for extending the time limit.

    “The effect of discriminatory redundancies, particularly for casual, agency and zero-hours workers, is devastating for them and their families.

    “Today should be an opportunity to refocus minds on tackling this important issue once and for all.”

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    Stuart O'Brien

    All stories by: Stuart O'Brien