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MPs call for 'urgent action' to prevent maternity discrimination

02 Sep 2016

The Women and Equalities Select Committee has called for ‘urgent action’ to protect pregnant women and new mothers in the workplace, after finding evidence for what it calls a ‘shocking’ rise in pregnancy and maternity discrimination.

Since 2005, the number of expectant and new mothers made to leave their jobs has almost doubled to 54,000, a new report by the Committee found.

The report proposes the implementation of a German-style system which would make it more difficult for employers to make women redundant during and after pregnancy.

Committee Chair, Maria Miller MP, said: ‘The economy will suffer unless employers modernise their workplace practices to ensure effective support and protection for expectant and new mums.

‘The Government's approach has lacked urgency and bite. It needs to set out a detailed plan outlining the specific actions it will take to tackle this unacceptable level of discrimination. This work must be underpinned by concrete targets and changes to laws and protections to increase compliance by employers to improve women's lives.’

The Committee’s report urges the Government to publish ‘an ambitious, detailed plan within the next two years, or risk a further rise in pregnant women and mothers being forced out of their work’.

Its recommendations include changes to health and safety practices, preventing discriminatory redundancies and an increase in protection for casual, agency and zero-hours workers.

Business Minister, Margot James MP, said: ‘It is completely unacceptable that pregnant women and new mothers are apparently being forced to quit their jobs because of outdated attitudes. Tackling this issue is a key priority of mine and this Government and I would like to thank the Committee for its important work. We will consider its recommendations carefully and respond in due course.’

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