25% of working mothers have suffered pregnancy discrimination

According to a recent survey by law firm Slater and Gordon,  than a quarter of mothers in the UK have encountered pregnancy discrimination against at work.

One-third of 1,975 women questioned said they had found it very difficult to further their careers.

More than half of the respondents felt that their employer could do more to support working mothers.

According to a BBC article, the irony is that 35% of women surveyed said they felt they had worked harder since having a family.

In contrast, employers said that businesses had made leaps and bounds in respecting pregnancy and managing maternity leave.

Commenting on the findings, employment minister Jo Swinson remarked that it was illegal for employers to sack a woman because of her pregnancy, and that “such action constitutes pregnancy discrimination”.

An earlier UK survey in July by One Poll found that 35% of mothers questioned said their workplace was not supportive of their pregnancy situation and 31% had felt badly treated whilst away from the workplace on maternity leave.

Nearly one-third of those questions said they had felt under pressure to return to work earlier than they wanted too.

In response to the study, the Federation for Small Businesses defended their members stating that “Small businesses are family-friendly” but also that “…it is important that the employer is made aware of the pregnancy in a timely manner.” Regardless of how loyal a female employee may feel towards their employer, generally speaking most women will wait until they last possible moment, i.e. when they can no longer hide it, before telling their employers.

Pregnancy discrimination can also happen during the recruitment process, with potential employers asking inappropriate questions of female candidates.

One woman we spoke to described her experience during an interview for an estate agency in Wiltshire in 2010. At the time she was 32 and had two school-age children. She commented: “It is perfectly usual in an interview for the potential employer to want to get to know the interviewee.

However in this case the interviewer, a man, asked me bluntly if I was going to have any more children. I remember being quite shocked at the time, but luckily my answer was in the negative. I am not sure how I would have felt at being asked that question if I was planning on a third child!”