Report on ‘Pregnancy and Maternity-Related Discrimination and Disadvantage’

Pregnancy and Maternity-Related Discrimination and Disadvantage was published by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills and the Equality and Human Rights Commission on 23 July 2015.

The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) and the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) commissioned a programme of research to investigate the prevalence and nature of pregnancy discrimination and disadvantage in the workplace. The results in this report are based on interviews with 3,034 employers and 3,254 mothers. The two surveys cover the views and experiences of employers and mothers on a range of issues related to managing pregnancy, maternity leave and mothers returning to work.

The survey findings are based on employer’s and mothers’ perceptions and in the case of mothers, their view of whether their treatment was because of pregnancy and/or maternity leave. This treatment does not necessarily fall under the legal definition of discrimination. Only an employment tribunal can determine whether unlawful discrimination or unfair dismissal has occurred.

The majority of employers reported that it was in their interests to support pregnant women and those on maternity leave and they agreed that statutory rights relating to pregnancy and maternity are reasonable and easy to implement. However, the research found that:

  • Around one in nine mothers (11%) reported that they were either dismissed; made compulsorily redundant, where others in their workplace were not; or treated so poorly they felt they had to leave their job; if scaled up to the general population this could mean as many as 54,000 mothers a year.
  • One in five mothers said they had experienced harassment or negative comments related to pregnancy or flexible working from their employer and /or colleagues; if scaled up to the general population this could mean as many as 100,000 mothers a year.
  • 10% of mothers said their employer discouraged them from attending antenatal appointments; if scaled up to the general population this could mean up to 53,000 mothers a year.

This report was prepared by IFF Research on behalf of the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills and the Equality and Human Rights Commission.