A recent YouGov survey of 1,106 decision-makers revealed that a third of those working for private companies thought it was reasonable during the recruitment process to ask a woman about her plans to have children.
Almost half thought it was okay to ask a woman if she had small children and 59% said female job applicants should have to disclose if they are pregnant.
The findings raise questions around whether employers don’t understand the discrimination law or simply don’t believe it applies to them.
It is worrying that in some quarters pregnancy seems to be seen as a burden on a business and, if you’re a woman, having young children can be considered an indication of a lack of commitment or ambition.
Stories of discrimination in the recruitment process are shockingly common. While most employers are aware that it is illegal to discriminate against workers on the grounds of their gender, age, religion or sexual orientation, a different attitude can exist when it comes to asking women about their plans to have a family.
The law on this is very clear. If an employer treats you unfairly because you are pregnant or have recently had a baby, this is pregnancy and maternity discrimination under the Equality Act and you can take action in an employment tribunal. The Act says that you have to show that you have been the victim of ‘unfavorable’ treatment because of the pregnancy.
An employer mustn’t discriminate against you because:
• you are pregnant or have a pregnancy-related illness.
• you are on maternity leave, have been on maternity leave, or tried to take maternity leave to which you are entitled.
This protected period extends from the time that you become pregnant to the end of your maternity leave or when you return to work if this is earlier, or, if you don’t have the right to maternity leave, two weeks after your pregnancy ends.
If you would like any advice about discrimination in the workplace either from an employer or employee perspective, get in touch with me on 01782 205000 or email firstname.lastname@example.org