The Research

The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) and the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) commissioned a programme of research to investigate the prevalence and nature of pregnancy discrimination and disadvantage in the workplace.

The results were published in July 2015 and are based on interviews with 3,034 employers and 3,254 mothers.

The two surveys cover the views and experiences of employers and mothers on a range of issues related to managing pregnancy, maternity leave and mothers returning to work.

Main findings

The majority of employers reported that it was in their interests to support pregnant women and those on maternity leave and they agreed that statutory rights relating to pregnancy and maternity are reasonable and easy to implement. However, the research found that:

Around one in nine mothers (11%) reported that they were either dismissed; made compulsorily redundant, where others in their workplace were not; or treated so poorly they felt they had to leave their job; if scaled up to the general population this could mean as many as 54,000 mothers a year.

One in five mothers said they had experienced harassment or negative comments related to pregnancy or flexible working from their employer and /or colleagues; if scaled up to the general population this could mean as many as 100,000 mothers a year.

10% of mothers said their employer discouraged them from attending antenatal appointments; if scaled up to the general population this could mean up to 53,000 mothers a year.

Read the full report here

This report follows the 2005 Equal Opportunities Commission’s (EOC) report ‘Greater Expectations’ examining the extent of pregnancy discrimination in Britain. The EOC reported that almost half of the 440,000 pregnany women in Britain at that time, experience some form of disadvantage at work, simply for being pregnancy or taking maternity leave. It was also reported that 30,000 women are forced out of their jobs. This figure included women who opted for voluntary redundancy.