A new £1 million programme of independent research to examine the extent of pregnancy discrimination in the UK and its effect on both families and the economy, has been given the go-ahead by the Government.
Over nine thousand pregnancy discrimination claims have been brought against UK employers since 2007, and it has been nearly ten years since the last full study found that being pregnant cost families nearly £12 million pounds a year in lost maternity pay as women were fired before they were entitled to claim.
The report highlighted that half of all pregnant women in Great Britain experienced some form of disadvantage at work, simply for being pregnant or taking maternity leave, with 30,000 women saying they had been forced out of their jobs.
Since then pregnant women and working parents have been given greater rights at work through developments such as an extension of statutory maternity leave and pay, the right to request flexible working and paid time off to attend hospital and doctors’ appointments. However, there is still concern that pregnancy discrimination remains a prevalent issue in the workplace and more needs to be done to tackle it.
The research was proposed and will be carried out by the Equality and Human Rights Commission. The Commission will also help women by running an education campaign aimed at employees and employers to raise their awareness of pregnancy and maternity discrimination rights and obligations.
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