Strengthening Maternity Rights

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2019 National Delegate Conference
25 February 2019

Conference notes with deep concern research by the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) that too many women continue to experience pregnancy and maternity discrimination in UK workplaces. According to the EHRC research, of the 3,034 employers surveyed:

1)70% said women should declare up front about pregnancy during recruitment;

2)25% said it was reasonable during recruitment to ask women about their plans to have children;

3)28% said that protection from redundancy during ordinary maternity leave was unreasonable;

4)27% felt pregnancy put an unreasonable cost burden on the workplace;

5)17% felt pregnant women and mothers were less interested in career progression and promotion than other employees.

Given that employers felt able to disclose such discriminatory and unlawful opinions, it is unsurprising that the EHRC’s survey of 3254 mothers found that:

a)77% said they had a negative or possibly discriminatory experience during pregnancy, maternity leave and/or on return from maternity leave.

b)11% felt forced to leave their job;

c)20% said they experienced harassment or negative comments related to pregnancy or flexible working from their employer/colleagues;

d)10% were discouraged from attending antenatal appointments

e)51% of mothers who had their flexible working request approved said they felt it resulted in negative consequences

Conference further notes and welcomes the work of the recent Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy consultation. This was informed by the key issues raised in the Women and Equalities Select Committee 2016 report and recently on the Taylor review of modern working practices.

Conference believes that tackling pregnancy and maternity discrimination is vital in challenging fundamental inequalities in our labour market. That this review does not go far enough in protecting and enhancing the rights of pregnant women and new mothers.

Conference calls upon the National Executive Council to:

i)Continue to highlight the rights of women whilst pregnant and on their return to work;

ii)Campaign to maintain and improve anti-discrimination laws, maternity and parental leave and pay, health and safety rights which are currently derived from European Union directives if and when the UK leaves the European Union;

iii)Campaign to ensure that pregnant women and new mothers working in the insecure economy have meaningful access to basic employment rights including attending ante-natal appointments, health and safety at work and paid sick leave;

iv)Campaign to extend existing protections against unfair redundancy to cover notification of pregnancy through to six months after return to work;

v)Continue to work and campaign with Maternity Action to protect maternity rights at work and extend support to vulnerable and destitute women in our communities;

vi)Enhanced rights to take effect at the point that the woman is placed at risk of redundancy.