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Maternity discrimination ‘still a major problem in the workplace’

Discrimination against mothers and pregnant women is still a major problem in the workplace, according to research by the charity, Working Families.

It says 10% of the calls to its advice line are about maternity and employment issues. It believes this 10% is just the tip of the iceberg and that discrimination is still rife in the workplace as the attitude of employers hardens during the recession.

The Chief Executive of Working Families, Sarah Jackson, said: "This is the third year we’ve reported on high levels of maternity discrimination, with signs that employer attitudes are hardening and discrimination becoming more blatant. 

"Eight years ago - before the recession hit - the Equal Opportunities Commission found 30,000 women lost their jobs each year because of pregnancy or maternity. It is time the EHRC revisited the issue, as we believe our helpline reveals only the tip of the iceberg." 

The charity gives examples of the kind of problems women have faced. One case involved a cleaner who had to take a week off work with a pregnancy related illness. When she returned, she found her name had been taken off the work rota. She was told she had to take three months maternity leave or lose her job.

Another woman was told her pay would have to be reduced if she started to work flexibly.

Discrimination against women in the workplace is illegal. Anyone who feels they have been the victim of discrimination at work is entitled to claim compensation.

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