Valuing Maternity

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2013 National Women's Conference
15 October 2012

Conference is concerned to note that in this time of austerity measures maternity, adoption, surrogacy and parental provisions are often being targeted by employers seeking to make savings in their budgets, particularly for those members working in the community and voluntary sector.

Pregnancy discrimination already affects tens of thousands of women each year, with pregnant women and women returning from maternity leave often being unfairly selected for redundancy even though there is legislation in place designed to protect them. Moreover, women returning from maternity leave find that flexible working requests are increasingly refused without proper consideration of the feasibility of part-time working or job-shares. Women entering into surrogacy or adoption arrangements, or those undergoing assisted conception treatment, particularly LGBT women, also experience discrimination and unfavourable treatment in the workplace.

In addition to this, maternity services themselves are under threat, with a shortfall in the number of trained midwives leading to reduced staffing on maternity wards; lack of training for staff; cuts in postnatal services which may lead to a drop in breastfeeding rates and an increase in undiagnosed postnatal depression and cuts to the number of midwives able to provide community services.

Conference applauds the UNISON and TUC sponsored “Valuing Maternity” campaign led by Maternity Action, which encourages women to tell their story of pregnancy and new motherhood, and to rate their employer for the support they provide.

The campaign also calls for :

1) Job security for all women during pregnancy and maternity

2) Maternity and parental leave that promotes real equality

3) Services to support a safe and healthy pregnancy

Conference calls upon the NWC to:

a) continue to work with Maternity Action, the TUC, service groups, Labour Link, regional women’s committees and partner organisations to defend and improve maternity, parental, adoption and surrogacy provision for all members;

b) work with all appropriate UNISON bodies to raise awareness amongst members of the rights of all parents, and the threat to the existing provisions.