The Independent London Newspaper
21st August 2017

Maternity Rights in the UK

    Published: 5 July, 2013

    IN the UK, maternity leave is a legal right for all working women. But this doesn’t mean it’s an easy conversation to broach with your employer. For many women, approaching their employer regarding maternity leave is met with trepidation, because for an employer it’s not necessarily good news. For women, pregnancy is a natural part of life, and for the human race, it’s a necessity for our species. But, for an employer, it means time off work.

    According to a new survey by Quality Solicitors, almost half of the 1,000 women asked were concerned about telling their employer about their pregnancy. Even though we are living in the 21st century and are well past the stigma of women being of less welcome in the workplace, there’s still a general fear that pregnancy will put their career at risk.

    Sadly, there’s sound reason for this fear. Earlier this year, a receptionist at an Audi dealership in Belfast was fired for getting pregnant. While she won a landmark court case against the employer, this isn’t a great example of how pregnant women are treated in the workplace. And it happens all around the world. In Australia, for example, evidence submitted to the government for review has found that a staggering number of women are being fired to stop them from accessing paid parental leave. The recession does nothing to help the situation either with companies cost cutting in any way they can. According to one study, one in seven women has lost their job while on maternity leave. This doesn’t paint the brightest picture for working women. But what choice do women have? Pregnancy is a part of life.

    The results of the Quality Solicitors survey are presented in the infographic below. The most shocking statistic has to be that of women who have accepted a job while pregnant, 46.1% of them have subsequently had their employment terminated. Also, 82.8% of women don’t ask about the company’s maternity policy during a job interview. Is this because it doesn’t apply to them at the time, or is there a belief that prospective employers will view this negatively?

    While we’ve come a long way in women’s rights and equality in the workplace, it seems there’s still a long way to go.

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