In a recent survey conducted by YouGov on behalf of The Equality Human Rights Commission, the statistics revealed that many businesses had worrying attitudes towards unlawful behaviour when it came to recruiting pregnant women and new mothers.

The survey was commissioned to understand managers’ attitudes around pregnancy and maternity discrimination. After surveying 1106 male and female decision makers across the UK, the results showed that:

  • 46% of employers agreed it was reasonable to ask women if they have young children during the recruitment process.
  • 59% of employers agreed that a woman should have to disclose whether she is pregnant during the recruitment process.
  • 44% agree women should work for an organisation for at least a year before deciding to have children.
  • About one third believe that women who become pregnant and new mothers in work are “generally less interested in career progression”.
  • 41% of employers agreed that pregnancy in the workplace puts “an unnecessary cost burden” on the workplace.
  • 51% agree there is sometimes resentment towards women who are pregnant or on maternity leave.
  • Two out of five employers said women who have had more than one child while in the same job can be a “burden” to their team.

The Chief Executive of the Equality and Human Rights Commission said: “‘It is a depressing reality that, when it comes to the rights of pregnant women and new mothers in the workplace, we are still living in the dark ages. It’s clear that many employers need more support to better understand the basics of discrimination law and the rights of pregnant women and new mothers.”

In an attempt to eliminate these attitudes towards pregnant women and new parents, the Commission is encouraging employers to join the Working Forward initiative which provides employers with advice, guidance and resources to improve employee confidence, support line managers and improve flexible working. Large employers such as Nationwide, Royal Mail and Transport for London are all members, but there is no quota for the number of employees.

We would imagine that if employers have the above views, they know better than to voice them, but maternity rights is still a tricky area for employers, with potentially grave consequences as there is no limit for sex discrimination compensation. Our Employment team are experienced in offering advice to employers and employees on employment rights, best practice and policies.

If you would like to speak to a member of our Employment team on the matters raised in this article, or any other employment matter, please call +44 (0) 203 814 2020.

Source:, accessed 19th February 2018