“I loved my job”. Sarah Rees was working for a large charity when she gave birth to her first child. Yet she was made redundant while on maternity leave. Dealing with pregnancy in the workplace can be stressful enough, but it transpires that employers actively discriminate against women having a family.
Sarah spoke to the BBC as news emerged that in poll for the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC), over one-third of employers thought it reasonable to ask a woman about her plans to have children. Almost 60% agreed that a woman should have to disclose during the recruitment process whether she is pregnant.
Despite Sarah being keen to get back to work quickly, her workplace weren’t forthcoming on when that would be. Tipped off by someone associated with the charity that she was going to be made redundant was the first she knew of it. “I realised I wasn’t wanted anymore.”
She couldn’t afford to go to an employment tribunal, and was instead forced to accept the terms of the redundancy. “I didn’t want to go into anything so difficult when I was already in a very stressful time, being a new mum.”
The survey also found that about one third of employers believe that women who become pregnant and new mothers in work are “generally less interested in career progression”, while 41% of employers agreed that pregnancy in the workplace puts “an unnecessary cost burden” on the workplace.Worryingly, over half agree there is sometimes resentment towards women who are pregnant or on maternity leave.
“It is a depressing reality that, when it comes the rights of pregnant women and new mothers in the workplace, we are still living in the dark ages,” EHRC chief executive Rebecca Hilsenrath told the BBC.
Did you experience discrimination when dealing with pregnancy in the workplace? Did you feel supported upon your return, or did you feel it had affected your advancement? Share your stories of pregnancy in the workplace HERE.