What the EHRC & BIS reports say?
Today there is a lot of talk in the news and on social media about pregnancy discrimination in the work place – it’s a hot topic! The harsh reality is that 54,000 women a year in the workplace are discriminated against during their pregnancy and maternity periods, according to the latest report published by The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) and the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC). The report provides both findings and recommendations on pregnancy discrimination. So in reality if you don’t take the right approach, it really can damage your business.
Interesting report findings
- One in nine mothers (11%) reported that they felt forced to leave their job
- One in five mothers (20%) said they experienced harassment or negative comments related to pregnancy employer/colleagues
- One in 25 mothers (4%) left their jobs because of risks not being addressed
- One in ten (10%) mothers were discouraged from attending antenatal appointments
Why it makes business sense for employers to be fair?
Consider the following thoughts – it’s a three-tier thing!
If you discriminate, it exposes your business to the risk of legal action being taken against you and in turn can lead to uncapped compensation claims. Financially, this can have a huge impact on your business.
Not to mention damage to your hard earned reputation and branding. Think about the personal investment too. If you have invested heavily in the personal development of your employees to ensure you have the best knowledge and expertise in the business, it makes sense for you to minimise the risk of losing those employees and maintaining job performance and productivity.
Careful consideration on the impact of morale within your business should also be taken into account. If any unfair treatment is or has taken place, think about how it reflects on your business and how it could effect the engagement and commitment of the workforce. If you are being non-discriminatory, your employees will respect your approach, feel valued, secure in their roles and that leads to a positive working environment.
Best practice for employers
If you dismiss, fail to communicate effectively during her leave, refuse to allow her to accrue annual leave during maternity leave, not consider her for promotion or training, select a woman for redundancy for a reason related to her pregnancy or because she is working part-time or flexible hours, or treat a pregnant woman less favourably because of pregnancy related absence – these are all considered grounds for discrimination.
Essentially, there are many reasons as to why your business could be taken to a tribunal.
Quick guidelines to follow
According to a recent Citizen Advise Bureau (CAB) report, they have seen a 58% increase in the number of maternity leave queries in the last two years. The CAB has provided three quick guidelines for managing pregnancy and maternity related tasks:
- Managing pregnant employees and those on maternity leave in a redundancy situation
- Considering a request to return part-time from maternity leave
- Managing terms and conditions during maternity leave
Many of these recommendations may simply be a bit of common sense. It does makes sense to take practical measures to address the points raised in the report findings, and for both the employer and working women to benefit from the implementation of these processes into the workplace.
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