Is Maternity Discrimination Pushing Women Out of Work?
Recent studies have revealed that 3 in 4 working mothers have experienced a degree of some form of discrimination within their professional lives, half of whom have alleviated that have claimed that maternity leave has had a negative impact on their career.
The vast majority of bosses believe that women should declare themselves to be pregnant when they begin a new position, as this could impact the future of the company and could cause complications down the line, and a quarter of all employers asked, believe it to be a fair question to ask if the employee is planning on having children.
Although many believe this to be a fair question, it remains the case that many employers allow the answers to determine their potential employees future within the company, and can even in some cases prevent a person from getting the job.
A report from the ECHR (European Convention of Human Rights) has stated that the attitude towards people returning from maternity leave has significantly deteriorated over the passing year. This alone has shown that nearly 55,000 women were being forced out of their jobs each year after maternity leave.
There are many tales and horror stories that mothers have had to face in the workplace. For instance, a woman returned back to work after 12 months, after giving birth to twins, and was told by her female employee that mothers who worked and had children under the age of 5 were selfish.
One of the most shocking things about these ongoings, is the fact that mothers are feeling less and less empowered to stand up against their employers and express their rights as a working mother. The burden of such legislation, alongside the cultural, professional and emotional pressures that are forced upon women, mean that many are remaining silent, and subsequently allowing themselves to be treated in a certain way.
Not all discrimination in the workplace is overt, many remarks and actions are often subtle and underhanded. Mothers, or soon to be mothers, do in fact have a level of heightened protection in the workplace, which begins when they fall pregnant, and then ends when maternity leave is over.
(Hayley Powell is a maternity discrimination specialist in Manchester, who aims to inform and empower women to know their rights as a mother, or soon-to-be mother.)