A new report published by the Equality and Human Rights Commission and Department of Business Innovations and Skills has revealed many mothers felt they were subject to discriminatory behaviour or harassment during their pregnancy, maternity leave and return to work. This is despite pregnancy and maternity being protected under the Equality Act 2010.
One in nine mothers said they were dismissed, made compulsorily redundant or felt they had to leave their job due to poor treatment upon return from maternity leave. Worryingly, the new report also highlights that ten percent of mums were discouraged from attending antenatal appointments, and other mums said that, once back at work, they were refused time off to cope with illness, or other problems with their baby.
Bliss Chief Executive Caroline Davey commented:
“This report paints a shocking picture which will be of concern to all new mums and mums-to-be. Bliss is particularly concerned about its implications for mums with a baby born premature or sick because, sadly, these new findings chime with our 2014 report 'It’s not a game: the very real costs of having a premature or sick baby' which reported that nearly ten percent of mums said their employers were either unsupportive or very unsupportive after their baby was admitted to neonatal care.
"I’m especially concerned by the numbers of mothers discouraged from attending antenatal appointments, which puts both mother’s and baby’s health at risk, and also the number of mums being denied time off work to cope with problems relating to their baby. This a significant barrier to returning to work for mums who have had a premature or sick baby, many of whom come home from hospital with long-term health needs.
"Bliss is campaigning for maternity leave to be extended for mums in this situation, to reflect their baby’s total hospital stay. We are also calling for advice to be published by the Government for employers on best practice when supporting parents of premature and sick babies."
For more information, please see our campaign pages: bliss.org.uk/maternity-and-paternity-leave