When you hear about pregnancy discrimination in the media, it tends to be business people complaining about the cost of dealing with employment tribunal claims. There are certainly a lot of women experiencing unfair and unlawful pregnancy discrimination at work, but how many actually take action?
Research from 2005 found that the vast majority of women who experience pregnancy discrimination do absolutely nothing to pursue their legal rights. For women who experienced tangible discrimination (such as losing their job), 71% didn’t even discuss it with their employer. Roughly one in five women had an informal discussion with their employer. Fewer than one in ten submitted a grievance, sought external advice or took a claim to the tribunal.
When Maternity Action examined the figures more closely, the organisation found that only 3% of women who experienced tangible pregnancy discrimination took their claims to the employment tribunal. That’s a very small proportion of the women who could have pursued legal action. All the signs suggest that the proportion of women taking legal action on pregnancy discrimination have dropped considerably since 2005. Employment tribunals are no longer free of charge with women facing £1200 up-front fees to pursue a pregnancy discrimination claim. Fees have led to a ‘steep decline’ in the number of cases going to the tribunal. On top of this, the Government has made massive cuts to legal aid and advice service funding, making it harder for women on low incomes. Pregnancy discrimination is getting worse, not better. Join MA in asking Government to do something about it. Find out more.