The Equality and Human Rights Commission has published statistics about pregnancy discrimination that make interesting reading for employment solicitors and clients alike.

The key points from the report (produced by the independent polling organisation YouGov) are as follows:

  • Half of employers believe pregnancy in the workplace is an ‘unnecessary cost burden
  • 40% claim that women in their workplace ‘take advantage’ of their pregnancy
  • Employers in finance were twice as likely as to hold negative views about the commitment of pregnant employees
  • Research suggests that 54,000 new mothers are forced out of jobs every year because of maternity discrimination.
  • The report states ‘it is clear that many employers need more support to understand the basics of discrimination law and the rights of pregnant women and new mothers

Perhaps the most interesting finding is that six in 10 employers (59%) agree that a woman should have to disclose during the recruitment process whether she is pregnant. It also shows that there are pockets of employment law that employers don’t really understand.

The Equality Act 2010 protects employees from pregnancy discrimination within the workplace on the basis of being pregnant or maternity leave. Yet despite the last eight years of the Act being in force, employers are still discriminating against pregnant women today.

The research shows that women at job interviews are regularly asked questions about starting a family in the future. A recent survey of more than 1,000 British employers identify that six in ten believe women should have to disclose at interview whether they are pregnant and those employers revealed if those women are pregnant, they are reluctant to hire those who are.

Unbeknown to many British employers, those who ask potential applicants about their future family plans could be in breach of pregnancy discrimination provisions under the Equality Act 2010.

By Ava Bannister

Image used under CC courtesy of Randen Pederson