Viewpoint - Maternity alert

Ros Bragg warns that women’s maternity rights are under threat in the workplace

Each year, 60,000 women lose their jobs as a result of pregnancy discrimination.

This is against the law but many women are unaware of their rights.

Maternity Action works to challenge inequality and promote the health and wellbeing of all pregnant women, new mothers and their families.

We provide women with free, accessible online information and telephone advice about their rights at work and in the benefits system.

We are campaigning for government action on the growing problem of pregnancy discrimination.

Historically, only three per cent of women who lose their job as a result of pregnancy discrimination take their employer to the employment tribunal and this is likely to decline further with the introduction of employment tribunal fees.  

We lead the Valuing Maternity campaign to defend maternity rights and protect maternity services, which is supported by 21 unions, parenting groups and women’s organisations.

We have succeeded in persuading the government to fund research into pregnancy discrimination by the Equality and Human Rights Commission, which is due for release in June 2015.  

We are concerned that there are no plans for action prior to the release of this research, leaving increasing numbers of pregnant women and new mothers facing unfair and unlawful treatment at work.

Last December we released a report outlining specific interventions the government can take to address the problem and we have been pushing for a swift response.

We are asking women to share their experiences at work during pregnancy and new motherhood.

These stories show the harsh impact on women and their families of losing a job or poor treatment at work when they are at their most vulnerable.

The cuts to maternity benefits under austerity policies are also making life difficult for new families.

We have produced an online calculator that allows women to calculate how much less they are receiving in benefits now than in 2010.  You can sign up in support of the Valuing Maternity campaign 

You can read women’s stories on the ‘When I had my baby’ wall or complete the Cutbacks Calculator to find out how much you have lost in maternity benefits.  Find out more at Maternity Action

Ros Bragg, director, Maternity Alliance

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