If you have kids, or are planning a family, you’ll be alarmed by findings from a new survey: 81% of British business managers would ask female job seekers their future and current family plans if the law permitted it. 49% of managers confess that age and gender does factor in to their final decision on whether to recruit someone.

Research commissioned by reveals that 81% of British business managers admit that they would ask female job applicants if they were pregnant, planned on having children or already had children if they could. However, due to Employment Laws preventing these types of questions, almost 50% of managers admit to factoring in a woman’s age and relationship status when trying to establish whether they could potentially be getting pregnant in the future. Interestingly, the gender of the recruiter made little-to-no difference to these results, with only 6% fewer females factoring in a woman’s age during recruitment than male recruiters.

In the anonymous study of 416 British business managers, 92% admit that if two suitable and equally qualified candidates applied for a job, one being a married man and one being a pregnant woman, the male would get the job even though 100% of them admit they would never profess this as the reason. Only 8% of respondents claim that they would employ whichever candidate they thought would work harder and fit into the team dynamics. 89% of respondents also admitted that they never or rarely take male applicants’ commitments at home into consideration during the application process. The main culprits are SMEs (50 members of staff or less), as ultimately money will factor into their employment decisions to a greater degree than a larger company, where staff turnover is higher and expected. According to the study, women aged between 26-35 years old are the most likely to be penalized, with more than 1 in 3 business managers admitting to being the most cautious when recruiting females within this age group due to the possibility of pregnancy. Lisette Howlett, Managing Director of comments on these findings; “This topic raises some very difficult issues and although Employment Laws clearly state an employer cannot discriminate against a pregnant woman or a single mother, managers from small companies in particular are undoubtedly nervous about the added cost of funding maternity cover or dealing with quick dashes out of the office to see to a sick child.

Interestingly these are potentially the very employees smaller, less competitive employers might benefit from considering since they can tap into a talent base that might otherwise be overlooked. “It is however an extremely controversial topic and managers who openly question women about their home life need to be extremely careful and ideally reconsider their interviewing strategy. “On the other hand, it is also possible for female interviewees to be rejected because they are not as qualified as someone else and not based on their being pregnant or having a family – these situations can also raise difficult problems for an employer.”

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