The Equality and Human Rights Commission is working with British businesses on a new national campaign to support pregnant women and new mothers at work.
Entitled ‘Working Forward’, endorsers will pledge to make workplaces the best it can be for pregnant women and new mothers.
This will be done by:
Demonstrating leadership from the top down: ensuring that everyone in the company is aware of policies and commitments and are on board so that it becomes part of the culture.
Ensuring confident employees, who should know about pregnancy and maternity policies, and feel secure and confident to talk to line managers
Training and supporting line managers: making it clear that a pregnancy in the workplace does not have to be difficult, and empowering line managers to talk to their employee and ensure that both feel well supported
Offering flexible working practices and thinking more creatively about the different types of flexibility and how they can be integrated into the business. This could include flexitime, part-time working, job sharing and shifts
The commission has initiated the campaign in response to research that showed around 77 per cent of mothers (390,000) had negative or discriminatory experiences at work, yet 84 per cent of employers claimed to support pregnant women and maternity cover.
It followed a report by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) and the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC), which found that the number of expectant and new mothers forced to leave their job over child safety concerns or pregnancy discrimination had doubled over the last decade to 54,000.
Research also revealed that more than one in 10 (11 per cent) of pregnant women and new mothers faced compulsory redundancy, dismissal or were forced out of their job because of poor treatment.
The commission has brought together a network of organisations including, Royal Mail, Barclays and BT, which have all already put Working Forward into practice, to advice and share best practice with other businesses on pregnancy and maternity rights for employees.
You can join the Equality and Human Right Commission in making workplaces better for pregnant women and new mothers by signing up here, or join the conversation on twitter with the hashtag #workingforward.