Press Releases and Research

Over 430k mothers have been legally gagged in the UK following workplace discrimination, harassment or bullying

Dozens of gagged women stand outside the Royal Courts of Justice to raise awareness of the misuse of NDA’s which silence thousands of mothers in the UK

  • An estimated 435, 293 mothers have been gagged by an NDA or confidentiality clause in the UK following discrimination, bullying and harassment at work
  • Pregnant Then Screwed and Can’t Buy My Silence are calling for all political parties to put an end to the use of non-disclosure agreements against victims of foul play
  • Over three-quarters of mothers who have signed an NDA said it had a negative impact on their mental health
  • Less than a third believe they were fairly compensated by their employers after their mistreatment despite their silence
  • Only a quarter of mothers would sign an NDA again under similar circumstances

DATE: 14th May 2024; Dozens of women stand gagged today on the steps of the Royal Courts of Justice in London in a campaign led by Pregnant Then Screwed and Can’t Buy My Silence against the misuse of NDAs and confidentiality clauses against mothers in the UK. 


Today’s protest is powered by new research from Pregnant Then Screwed, in partnership with Women In Data® that has uncovered that a staggering 435, 293 mothers in the UK (3.47%) are estimated to have been gagged by an NDA following discrimination, bullying and harassment at work. 


The new data also reveals the devastating and lasting impact that NDA’s and confidentiality clauses have on mothers’ lives, with three-quarters (78%) of mothers who have signed one reporting mental health deterioration as a result. 


NDAs are widely used to cover up the wrongdoings of people and companies to the detriment of victims – and often delivered at an incredibly vulnerable time. Just one quarter (26.6%) of mothers who have signed an NDA would sign again if given an option, and less than a third (30%) believe they were fairly compensated after their ordeal. 


One mother who signed an NDA following maternity discrimination explains

“I was asked to sign an NDA to cover maternity discrimination and a second time to cover harassment. The process of negotiating the NDA made me feel suicidal.  The NDA was presented to me at the end of a gruelling process that had to end otherwise I would have had to sell my home. The lasting impact of the NDA was ruinous.”


Another mother explained, “Signing an NDA with a large UK employer was the most isolating and difficult experience I’ve ever been through. It affects me to this day. At the time of signing, I was so distraught and so desperate to find a way out of a difficult situation that I’d no real understanding of how much the agreement itself would affect my confidence long term or how it would sever my contact with a community of colleagues I’d known for years.”


Whilst many argue that without NDAs, women wouldn’t get a swift and fair resolution to the discrimination they face, legislation implemented in many US states suggests otherwise. A recent analysis of US Employment Equality Opportunity Commission data compared the settlement rate for sexual harassment claims brought to the EEOC in 2017 – when there was no NDA legislation anywhere in the US – with 2022 – by which time legislation in 9 states banned NDAs for sexual harassment and other forms of misconduct and discrimination The data shows that there is in fact a 9% rise in settlements, proving that the use of NDAs was actually stopping people from coming forward as victims feared being gagged.


Lauren Fabianski, Head of Campaigns & Communications for Pregnant Then Screwed, comments, 

“NDAs have become a toxic tool that allows unscrupulous employers to quite literally pay victims to keep their mouths shut about horrific injustices. They mask discrimination, harassment and criminal abuse from the public and even the employees’ friends and family. This immoral practice undermines laws meant to protect workers and creates a culture of secrecy where perpetrators face no consequences.”


Zelda Perkins, founder of Can’t Buy My Silence explains, 

“The use of NDAs to gag women about the discrimination or abuse that they have faced at work is not only unethical but a further abuse that lasts indefinitely as NDAs are forever. These agreements not only silence women when they are in a vulnerable position but can hide the settlement amount offered, which enables employers to pay them less than they are entitled to by law. This is not only immoral but in many cases illegal”


Pregnant Then Screwed and Can’t Buy My Silence have launched a new petition demanding the government make NDAs unenforceable in cases related to discrimination, harassment, or other unlawful behaviours. This change would prevent them from being used to cover up wrongdoing and protect the integrity of employment law.




Notes to editor: 

For all media enquiries please contact:

Tel: 07756 525 004


Stats in full: 

3.47% of mothers say they have signed a confidentiality clause or NDA after experiencing discrimination or harassment in the workplace 


Of the women that have signed an NDA or confidentiality clause 


78.1% agree this had a negative impact on their confidence 

77.8% agree this had a negative impact on their mental health
48.4% agree this had a negative impact on their relationships with friends and family
79.8% agree that they had to leave their job as a result
30.2% agree they were fairly compensated for signing
26.6% agree they would sign one again in a similar situation 


About the Research:

This survey was commissioned by Pregnant Then Screwed. Survey design, weighting and analysis powered and executed by a Women in Data® team led by Taisiya Merkulova. A final sample of 5,870 respondents was randomly selected from a pool of 35,800 survey respondents. The sample is nationally representative across the UK population along gender, region, social grade and ethnicity. Weighting is based on the latest census and population estimations published by the ONS, NISRA and NRS.


How did we calculate the number of mothers impacted across the uk?: 

Using the source [Childbearing 2022 statistics – Table 2: Cumulative fertility: Proportion of women who have had at least one live birth, age and year of birth of woman. UK population demographics by age] 

We were able to calculate that there are 12,544,465 mothers aged 18-65 (working age) using the following calculation.
Take ‘final’ childbearing ratio at age 45 (which also includes post 45 births) for each age cohort in the latest childbearing data. (Limit the above to 18-65 only – discard data from outside this range).
Take the population estimate of women for each age (18-65) from latest population data.

Multiply the population estimate by the childbearing ratio for each age, generating an estimate of women who have had at least one child for every age. Add all the numbers in the above step for the final value.
We then took 3.47% of this figure to get 435,293


About Pregnant Then Screwed: 

Pregnant Then Screwed exists to end the motherhood penalty. We are the voice of working mothers in the UK. We have a strong and deep connection with our beneficiaries. We provide world-class advice and support to mothers to help them improve their confidence and wellbeing, to give them the tools they need to challenge discrimination in the workplace and to support them to find work that works for them. We advocate for change and raise awareness of the specific challenges faced by working mothers. We challenge deeply entrenched stereotypes about the role of mothers in society. We work with employers, politicians, women and men to make change happen. We publish compelling research to educate, inform and lead the debate.


About Women In Data®

Women in data® is a membership organisation whose mission is to achieve gender parity in the Data and Tech industries. Our objective is to create interventions to attract more female and gender diverse data professionals to the industry and then ensure they are retained to maximise their individual career potential.

Women in Data® together with our partners and the strength of our 60,000 plus community has a measurable, positive impact on pressing industry issues such as sector entry, career advancement, certification, role modelling, pay and inclusion.

Women in Data has become famous for its landmark annual events, which have grown in size and prestige year-on-year, as well as its year–round partner and member support, and its Twenty in Data and Technology annual spotlight on female trail-blazers and rising stars.


About Can’t Buy My Silence:

Can’t Buy My Silence is a campaign founded by Zelda Perkins and Dr Julie Macfarlane which is committed to end the misuse of non-disclosure agreements (NDAs) to buy victims silence. Our goal is simple – legislative and regulatory change that will make NDAs unenforceable for anything other than their original purpose – the prevention of sharing confidential business information (“intellectual property”) and trade secrets.  We provide a safe platform for people who have been pressured to sign an NDA to anonymously step forward and share how it has affected them as well as build public awareness and give people the information and power to say “no” to signing an NDA. Our campaigning has resulted in successful legislative change in the United Kingdom, Ireland, and Canada. 


Case study quotes: 


“I was so scarred by my experiences at this well-known media organisation that I wanted to leave my industry for good”


“I felt selfish, guilty and hypocritical opting for the ‘easy’ way out when I so strongly believe in standing up against these things, yet couldn’t/wououtldn’t do it myself. That was hard to swallow, and I still wonder if I did the right thing.”


“It was probably the most difficult decision of my life. It is certainly the one whose consequences have occupied more space in my head than I care to admit. The cost of whistleblowing is high. I’ve subsequently learnt that the cost of staying silent is higher.”


“My whole life changed, in every single possible way. There is no positive because there was no justice, no accountability, not even an apology.  Having to sit and listen to the legal back and forth while not having the ability to defend my credibility, my lack of consent, even my sexuality broke me in ways I would have never imagined. That process will break anyone, all over again.”


“I call the scar on my throat “my leaving present” from the media organization I worked for. For eighteen months I threw up almost every day, from fear and misery. I knew I was being driven out, bullied, belittled, ridiculed, undermined, threatened. It was just a matter of time how long I’d stick it out.”

Press Releases and Research

Never Miss Out {{ responseTitle }}

Sign up to the Pregnant Then Screwed mailing list so you can stay in the loop on our latest campaigns and achievements as well as tips on how you can help end The Motherhood Penalty {{ responseMessage }}
Whoops. The form is invalid.
  • {{ value }}.