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Are mothers discriminated against at work?

View profile for Kate Fretten
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The BBC has reported today the results of a survey which suggests that more than a quarter of mothers in the UK feel discriminated against at work since having their children. Read the full article here. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/education-23600465

The report says that over 30% of 1,975 women questioned said that they found it impossible to climb the career ladder and 54% said their employer could do more to support working mums. 35% thought they worked harder since having children.

Obviously the law protects women from being sacked whilst pregnant or on maternity leave. This would constitute pregnancy discrimination which would be likely to lead to an employment tribunal claim. However, the survey gives rise to the question of whether employers are supportive of women during pregnancy or after having children.

Other interesting statistics include:

  • 27% said they had felt under pressure to return to work earlier than they wanted to
  • Once back at work, 29% felt they had been overlooked for a promotion because of their parental responsibilities
  • 51% thought the attitudes of colleagues and bosses changed towards them once they had announced their pregnancy
  • Of the 25% of mothers who felt they had been discriminated against at work, nearly half felt overlooked for a promotion, 18% felt demoted and 35% had had responsibility taken away
  • However, 70% had never made a formal complaint about unfair treatment for fear of “rocking the boat”

Kate Fretten, a Partner in our Employment Team, is not surprised by the results of the survey. She says “It is clear from queries we get in the office, and also from speaking to friends who are working mum’s, that women often feel they are not wanted back in the work place after a period of maternity leave, especially if they want to work part time on their return. Most women simply ‘accept’ that if they return to work part time then their career will be put ‘on hold’ and/or they will not be able to return at such a senior level. Whilst it is true that working mums or pregnant women enjoy protection from dismissal on grounds of their pregnancy, a major culture shift is still required in a lot of businesses.”

If you feel that you may have been discriminated against, please call 01202 499255 and Kate or Paulwill be happy to discuss any questions that you may have.

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