30th January 2017
Government responds to report on Pregnancy and Maternity Discrimination
The Government has published its response to the Women and Equalities Committee’s report which called for better protection for pregnancy and maternity.
In summary, the report of the Government concludes that women are adequately protected by the law as it stands and therefore the majority of the recommendations contained in the Committee’s report will not be adopted. That said, the Government has confirmed that it will strengthen the position for women in respect of pregnancy, maternity and redundancy.
The Committee’s report, published on 31 August 2016, focused on pregnancy and maternity discrimination and highlighted that, since 2005, the number of pregnant women and new mothers forced to leave employment had almost doubled.
The report made 21 recommendations including:
- Obligations of employers should be strengthened in respect of assessing health and safety risks for new and expectant mothers;
- Maternity-related rights should be strengthened to include the right to paid time off for antenatal appointments to workers;
- Greater protection should be provided from redundancy – up to six months after the return to work;
- The time limit for bringing Employment Tribunal Claims should be extended from 3 months to 6;
- The fee for bringing Employment Tribunal Claims for women with pregnancy related claims should be reduced.
In the report, the Government has acknowledged that it is shocking that discrimination in the workplace still exists for women relating to pregnancy and maternity. It has committed to tackling the problem by working with the Equalities and Human Rights Commission on a campaign. I will also continue to work with ACAS, to raise awareness and to provide guidance and training.
The Government has also confirmed its commitment to monitoring pregnancy and maternity discrimination and general awareness.