This is too important; an unhappy mum means unhappy children and the economy and society suffer as a result.

I’m a husband, father and small employer and I find it sad that a ‘them and us’ division often seems to materialise when a female employee becomes pregnant – in other companies, not mine, I hasten to add.  I go out of my way to congratulate the woman when she tells me that she is expecting and then talk through how maternity leave etc. works, so as to remove any unwanted stress.  By definition if I have not let them go already then I must think highly of them and so I tell them to take as much time off as they would like – more the better, if they can afford it – and then come back.  I need them back, with all that great experience they have build up (OK, I work in the knowledge economy but I believe the same applies to almost every job).  Most working mums are highly efficient workers compared with others; what kind of employer does not want them back, and motivated as well?  Work is a financial partnership and both parties need to help understand the other’s position if they want to get the best from each other before, during and after the pregnancy.  Knowledge is important and many employers fear the unknown.  Empathy as well.  Don’t we all have mums?  There are many, many scenarios that need to be examined however and every case is different.  I believe the legislation to be fair – possibly even tipped a little in favour of the woman if strictly applied – but I can see from experience that the problem is the application of the law, and then the a further problem when seeking redress if there has been abuse.  Bad employers take advantage of the situation – or panic and make comments or decisions – and when they do so the woman is left to fight back; often the time is not right to do this and they suffer.  Sometimes the employer is struggling with financial problems and this is simply the straw that breaks the camel’s back.  I propose a new approach.  No more generalising.  Mandatory training for all women and men.  Immediate and automatic involvement of ACAS.  A recognition that happiness is as important as money.  Acceptance that even childless female bosses and men have mums.  There will always be discrimination because there are bad employees and employers but let’s improve the communication and reduce friction in the system.  This is too important; an unhappy mum means unhappy children and the economy and society suffer as a result.

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