Lone Parents, The Benefit System

Mothers facing discrimination

Mothers facing discrimination

In theory at least, the United Kingdom has laid down strong laws against discrimination against pregnant women. Amongst other things, it is illegal to;

  •  to dismiss, make redundant or otherwise treat her less favourably in relation to a pay rise, promotion, training;

But, as a report commissioned by the legal company Slater and Gordon states, one in four women, on returning to work,  feel that they have been discriminated against in the workplace. They argue that other workers, as well as their manager, feel that they are causing unnecessary problems when they ask for reasonable adjustments.  They are undervalued in the workplace and often feel that they are not wanted within that space.  Over 51% of women feel that they received different treatment following their pregnancy.  Others feel that they have missed out on promotions during their pregnancy and following the birth of their child, watching as younger colleagues go ahead of them on the career ladder.  They speak of being put on a slower career track which they label “the Mummy Track”.  http://www.workingmums.co.uk/working-mums-magazine/news/7246918/a-quarter-of-working-mums-feel-they-have

 (http://www.slatergordon.co.uk/media-centre/press-releases/2013/08/mums-facing-discrimination-in-the-workplace; -been-discriminated-against.thtml)

A report commissioned by Unison highlighted similar trends, finding that 1 in 4 women reported discrimination.  This has caused them to label the issue the ‘silent epidemic’. They say that;

 “Unless there is a wholesale cultural shift across workplaces this silent epidemic is only going to get worse.  The introduction of tribunal fees is making it more difficult for women to challenge discrimination by employers, coupled with rampant cuts to employment rights.” (http://www.unison.org.uk/content/conNewsArticle/4097)

The EHRC (Equality and Hunan Rights commmision (http://www.equalityhumanrights.com/key-projects) /have stated that they will make the promotion of this issues one of their major priorities over the next few years. What do you think?  Is this an important issue?  Have you, or somebody you know, experienced discrimination during or following their pregnancy? What should be done about this issue?

By Victoria Richards

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