By law, women who are pregnant or on maternity leave have the right not to be discriminated against at work, including the right not to be dismissed or suffer any detriment. They also have the right to paid time off for antenatal appointments, the right to return to their previous job or a comparable job after maternity leave and to decide their date of return, if earlier than 52 weeks.
Compensation for discrimination claims are unlimited, so it is not in any employer’s interest to find themselves liable for a claim.
If, despite these rights, women are still being discriminated against, then the Government needs to address the issue of enforcement including, in particular, Employment Tribunal fees of £1,200 which, judging by the ET statistics, has led to a substantial reduction in claims. Unless the Government is willing to address this issue, and it seems they are unwilling to do so, then the position is unlikely to change.
Three-quarters of pregnant women and new mothers experience discrimination at work and one in nine lose their job as a result, government-commissioned research has found. The report suggests that pregnancy discrimination, which is illegal, has risen significantly since 2005, when 45% of women said they had experienced such discrimination. The research, published on Tuesday, found one in five mothers said they experienced harassment or negative comments in the workplace related to pregnancy or flexible working and one in 10 said they were discouraged from attending antenatal appointments.