COMMONS

Nick Boles questioned on pregnancy and maternity discrimination

23 May 2016

What is the Government doing to tackle this discrimination? Does it have a detailed plan for action? How serious is it about addressing these problems? These are some of the issues the Women and Equalities Committee consider with BIS Minister Nick Boles at its evidence session on pregnancy and maternity discrimination.

Witnesses

Tuesday 24 May 2016, Boothroyd Room, Portcullis House

At 2.30pm

At approximately 3.30pm

  • Nick Boles MP, Minister of State for Skills, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills

Purpose of the session

The Committee’s inquiry is based on EHRC research which found that:

  • 11% of mothers reported that they were either dismissed, made compulsorily redundant where others in their workplace were not, or treated so poorly that they felt they had to leave their job
  • Around 20% of mothers said that they had experienced harassment or negative comments related to pregnancy or flexible working from their employer and/or colleagues, and 10% said they had been discouraged from attending antenatal appointments
  • 4% (around 21% if scaled up to the general population) said they had left their job because workplace risks were not tackled.

Chair's comments

Committee Chair Maria Miller said:

"The initial research findings were published nearly a year ago.  The delay in the Government’s response does not inspire confidence in its commitment to change. We want to know what concrete action the Government is taking to ensure that this discrimination does not continue."

EHRC report

The EHRC's report made wide ranging recommendations grouped into six areas for action:

  • Leadership for change so that employers attract the best talent, create the conditions for their staff to perform well, and avoid the loss of skills and experience which can result from misconceptions and poor practice in relation to pregnant workers and new mothers.
  • Improving employer practice to promote family friendly workplaces, effective management and open communication
  • Improving access to information and advice so that women and employers understand their rights and obligations
  • Improving health and safety management in the workplace so that employers manage risks effectively and women are not forced to choose between their job and their health or the health of their unborn child
  • Improving access to justice by removing barriers to women raising complaints
  • Monitoring progress to track the pace of change towards creating fairer workplaces.

The Government has published its initial response (PDF 609 KB) but has yet to set out detailed plans for action. 

Further information

Image: iStockphoto

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