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A fifth of pregnant women have been harassed over their decision to work flexibly, according to new findings.
The report was part of a joint effort from the Equality and Human Rights Commission (ECHR), which commissioned the report with the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills and said that more needs to be done to tackle the issue.
As many as one in five mothers said they experienced harassment or negative comments in the workplace related to pregnancy or flexible working. In addition, one in ten said they were discouraged from attending antenatal appointments.
The report found that illegal pregnancy discrimination has been on the increase since 2005, when just 45 per cent of women said they had experienced such discrimination.
Speaking about the findings, minister for women and equalities, Nicky Morgan, and the business secretary, Sajid Javid, said in a joint statement: “It will take coordinated action from government, the EHRC and business – at all levels and of all sizes as well as stakeholders – to truly tackle pregnancy and maternity-related discrimination in the workplace and stamp it out for good.”
Some 3,000 mothers and 3,000 employers were polled for the study. It identified a few of the main reasons that pregnant women faced discrimination.
Part of it was down to the employment tribunal fees of up to £1,200 introduced in 2013 and the lack of information that was available to pregnant women about their rights. Many also cited the stress of making a claim as being a significant factor.
The report also found that three-quarters of mothers questioned who were unsuccessful in job interviews felt the employer’s knowledge of their pregnancy had affected their chances.
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