One in seven women made redundant after maternity leave amid growing discrimination

One in seven women made redundant after maternity leave amid growing discriminationMore than half of women who were discriminated against 'suffer in silence'Tenth of women found themselves replaced by their maternity leave coverOne in seven felt they were overlooked for a promotion following maternity30,000 women lose jobs every year due to to pregnancy discrimination

By
Emily Andrews

PUBLISHED:

14:40 GMT, 10 March 2013

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UPDATED:

22:52 GMT, 10 March 2013


Discrimination: A survey of 1,000 women carried out by law firm Slater & Gordon found that more than half of women subjected to discrimination 'suffer in silence', with one and seven made redundant

Discrimination: A survey of 1,000 women found that more than half of women subjected to discrimination 'suffer in silence', with one in seven made redundant

One in seven women are made redundant after their maternity leave, according to a study.

And campaigners say discrimination against those who return to work after giving birth is on the increase.

The study found that 40 per cent said their jobs had changed by the time they returned, with half reporting a cut in hours or demotion.

More than a tenth had been replaced by the person who had covered their maternity leave.

Many also noted that once they had returned to work, they were overlooked for promotion.

More than half of women subjected to discrimination ‘suffered in silence’, some in fear that it would damage their career, according to the survey of 1,000 women carried out for law firm Slater & Gordon.

On returning to their jobs, 30 per cent of new mothers felt they did not fit in any more and 40 per cent felt they lacked support.

The campaign group Maternity Action said the number of new mothers seeking advice over discrimination had doubled every year for the last three years since the economic downturn.

Its director, Rosalind Bragg, said: ‘In 2005 research found 30,000 women each year lost their job as a result of unlawful pregnancy discrimination.

‘We have raised the issue with the Government but we are unable to get any action. It’s critically important that this issue becomes a government priority to enable women to remain in the workforce.

‘Pregnancy discrimination is largely invisible. This is partly because many matters are solved by [confidentiality] agreements which prevent women discussing the case publicly.’

Samantha Mangwana, an employment lawyer at Slater & Gordon, said the statistics were ‘sad and shocking’.

A tenth of women also find themselves replaced by their maternity leave cover, while another one in seven believed they were overlooked for a promotion

Overlooked: A tenth of women also find themselves replaced by their maternity leave cover, while another one in seven believed they were overlooked for a promotion

She added: ‘It is against the law to be sacked or treated unfairly because you are pregnant, or taking maternity leave.

‘More than half of the women polled suffered in silence because they
were either unsure of their rights, they didn’t know where to turn for
help or they thought seeking help would damage their future career
prospects.

‘Many companies are settling out of court because they don’t want to be seen to be treating pregnant mothers like this.’