The Government are proposing new rules that will help offer women who stop work to have a child greater protection against the threat of redundancy.
The new legislation would extend the legal protection against redundancy for pregnant women for six months after they return to work, whilst measures may also be introduced to protect others, including men, returning from adoption or shared parental leave.
A Business Department study found that one in nine women had been fired or made redundant when they return to work after having a child, or they were treated that badly that they felt they had been forced from their role.
It was also suggested that around 54,000 women could lose their jobs each year due to pregnancy and maternity.
Business Minister Kelly Tolhurst said: “Pregnancy and maternity discrimination is illegal, but some new parents still find unacceptable attitudes on their return to work which effectively forces them out of their jobs.”
Prime Minister Theresa May also spoke about her unhappiness at the current situation. She said: “It’s unacceptable that too many parents still encounter difficulties when returning to work.”
“People in this country already benefit from some of the most rigorous workplace standards in the world, including parental leave and pay entitlements, but we are determined to do even more as we leave the EU.”
The Government has now launched a ten-week consultation on the proposals which has been welcomed by a number of consumer groups.
Jane van Zyl, chief executive of work-life balance charity Working Families, said: “We hear from women struggling with pregnancy and maternity discrimination every single day on our helpline.
“The proposals should go a long way toward reducing the shocking number of women who lose their jobs due to pregnancy and maternity discrimination.”
Samantha Cass an employment law expert with Palmers, said: “Currently too many women are experiencing problems with redundancy following a break to have a child. These new rules should help to offer greater legal protection and combat maternity discrimination.”