Prepare to read some depressing statistics about pregnancy discrimination; women are even more likely to have to deal with it now than they were 10 years ago...
Up to 54,000 women in the UK could be losing their jobs every year due to getting pregnant. One in ten women in a recent study reported that they had been dismissed, made compulsorily redundant, or were treated so poorly that they felt like they had no choice but to leave their jobs.
The biggest study of its kind to date by the Equality and Human Rights Commission has just released some incredibly depressing figures around the subject of pregnancy discrimination. They found that around one in five new mothers (around 100,000 a year) had experienced harassment or negative comments from someone in the workplace when pregnant or when returning from maternity leave. One in 20 said they received a pay cut or lost out on bonuses after returning to work.
Even more shocking is the fact that one in ten women said they had been discouraged by their employer from attending antenatal appointments. You know, those vital appointments that make sure mother and baby are healthy and safe?
Chief executive of the Royal College of Midwives Cathy Warwick says, ‘Evidence shows that missing antenatal appointments can increase the risk of smaller babies, premature babies, miscarriages and stillbirth.’
In an amazing win for pregnant women everywhere, last year a woman in the US sued her employer AutoZone for the massive sum of $185 million and won. She claimed she was demoted and then fired for being pregnant. Although the final settlement was undisclosed, AutoZone recently dropped its challenge against the case. Sadly, this is an incredibly rare example.
Joeli Brearly founded the Pregnant Then Screwed project in March, which shares the stories of more than 400 pregnancy discrimination victims. She says, ‘When I was sacked for being pregnant, I thought I was the only woman in the world this had happened to. I felt alone, vulnerable and unable to find the help I so desperately needed.
The problem is that women can’t talk publicly about what happened to them. Many sign confidentiality agreements, some still work for the same company and others feel they would be branded a trouble-maker, thereby restricting their chance of finding new employment.’