Pregnant workers face “unacceptable” discrimination

Soon-to-be mothers should be given a budget of around �3,000 which could be spent on NHS services to ensure they get the care they desire, the authors said. Picture: Andrew Matthews/PA Wire
Soon-to-be mothers should be given a budget of around �3,000 which could be spent on NHS services to ensure they get the care they desire, the authors said. Picture: Andrew Matthews/PA Wire
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PREGNANT women who face discrimination from their employers are to get new protection under a national drive to tackle the issue “head on”, the Scottish Government has announced.

New guidelines for employers are to be published and a tough new inspection and reporting regime will be implemented, fair work secretary Roseanna Cunningham said yesterday.

Ms Cunningham said that discrimination faced by working women who get pregnant, particularly after returning to work post-birth, is still widespread in Scotland and must come to and end.

“Sadly in 2016, negative consequences of being pregnant or a new mother while working remain frustratingly common,” she said.

“This is unacceptable in a modern Scotland and does not sit well in a fair and equitable society.

A report from the European Human Rights Convention will be published in the coming weeks as part of the Scottish Government’s commitment to fairer workplaces.

“We want to tackle these issues head on,” the minister added. “Discrimination during pregnancy or following birth has the potential to set patterns that persist for the rest of a woman’s working life and we need to ensure it is stopped.”

A new working group to create guidelines for employers to ensure best practice on recruitment, retention and development of pregnant workers is to be established.

Advice to employers will be strengthened on work-safe and healthy work environments for pregnant women and new mothers.

Monitoring and reporting of pregnancy and maternity issues will also be improved under the Scottish Public Sector Equality Duty.

Ms Cunningham presented the plan yesterday at an event hosted by law firm firm Maclay, Murray and Spens in Edinburgh.

Sarah Jackson, head of Working Families and Chair of the Family Friendly Working Scotland Steering Group, welcomed the proposals unveiled by the Scottish Government.

“Too many women contact our free legal advice service each year because they have been subject to discrimination during pregnancy, maternity or on their return to work,” she said. “This shortchanges families and shortchanges the economy

“Family Friendly Working Scotland was established to support and promote family friendly workplaces.

“We therefore welcome today’s announcement by the Scottish Government of new measures to help pregnant women and new mothers in the workplace.

“Employers across Scotland must now positively engage with these measures – to better support the parents they employ through their pregnancy, maternity and paternity leave and their return to work.”