A recent report by Maternity Action titled Overdue: A plan of action to tackle pregnancy discrimination now has created some interesting reading. Their research looked into the level of maternity discrimination that females are encountering in the workplace and it has led to some rather shocking figures. One of the key figures that they have come up with is that 60,000 female workers are removed in some way from their job due to being pregnant each year at present. They go on to say that the majority of women who suffer such discrimination do not go on to issue a claim for discrimination at tribunal and this is primarily down to the tribunal fees that were introduced in July.
Although there is a fee remission scheme in place, our own experiences with it have found it cumbersome and more often than not the tribunals will find one reason or other to reject the remission application. The fact that the remission is such a hurdle does prevent women who have been discriminated against from feeling that they actually have an option when it comes to encountering pregnancy discrimination. This means that employers are more likely to be able to get away with unlawful behaviour as employees or ex-employees won’t pursue action due to the cost ramifications. The report also goes on to say that between 2011 and 2012 the level of visitors to their information services has doubled (and undoubtedly has increased further in 2013) and an incredible amount of information sheets have been downloaded from their website.
The sad fact is that even if employees try to pursue a claim for maternity discrimination they might not even get anything if successful and the stress they go through can be incredibly high. The level of work that needs to be done before it reaches tribunal is intense and a lot of people are intimidated by the research and evidence gathering that needs to be done and the experience within the tribunal itself. The fact that they will probably have given birth by this point means that the idea of pursuing a stressful tribunal claim might fall to the wayside due to family matters. Then when they are successful they might not even be able to recover any money, one successful claimant was awarded £33,000 however 17 months after the ruling she has yet to recover anything.
The Government has announced a £1 million study into maternity discrimination which will hopefully shine some light on the exact figures as there has been no official study since 2005 however it is doubtful that it will be happy reading.
Because of the disparity between employers and employees when it comes to maternity discrimination it is of vital importance that you gain some legal advice. Our solicitors can give you the support that is necessary in what is undoubtedly a stressful time.
If you feel that you have been discriminated during your pregnancy please do not hesitate to contact us on [phonenumber] where one of our professional team will be able to discuss your situation with you and advise you on the feasibility of taking your case forward on a no win no fee basis.