An independent organisation has researched and reported on British attitudes towards pregnancy and the prevalence of maternity-related disadvantage.
The report was prepared by IFF Research for the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills and the Equality and Human Rights Commission. The report surveyed 3,254 mothers and 3,034 employers to assess their experiences and views on issues relating to pregnancy, maternity leave and returning to work after having children.
77% of mothers surveyed said they had experienced a negative or possibly discriminatory experience during pregnancy, maternity leave or on returning to work. 20% felt that they had experienced harassment or negative comments relating to pregnancy or flexible working from their employer or colleagues. Around 10% said they felt forced to leave their job.
84% of employers recognised that it was in their interests to support pregnant women and those on maternity leave, as this increased the likelihood of retaining staff and created better morale amongst employees. Most employers (70%) said they felt women should declare upfront during recruitment if they are pregnant and 27% felt that pregnancy put an unreasonable cost burden on the workplace.
It is a human right not to be discriminated against on the ground of gender or ‘other status’, which could include pregnancy or maternity. This right is reflected in Article 14 of the European Convention on Human Rights, which has effect in UK law through the Human Rights Act. The right is reinforced in relation to the workplace through the Equality Act 2010 (section 18).