A report published on 31 August by the Women and Equalities Commission declared that pregnancy and maternity discrimination has almost doubled in the past 10 years (since 2005). The report calls for substantially increased protection for UK women, including:
- Employers only being able to dismiss in exceptional circumstances (and even then only with Government approval) in the period from the beginning of pregnancy until 4 months after childbirth;
- a significant reduction in the Employment Tribunal fees (currently £1200) for women claiming discrimination relating to pregnancy;
- increased protection for casual and agency workers;
- protection from redundancy to be extended for 6 months after returning to work; and
- full assurances that Brexit will not erode rights and protections for UK women.
Despite the fact that many employers feel that they are not discriminating on the grounds of pregnancy or maternity, this report would seem to suggest otherwise. The Government has indicated that it will respond in due course.