Thousands of women leave the workplace each year due to redundancies and pay cuts that occur during pregnancy.
Shadow minister for women and equalities Sarah Champion has said government should face up to the true scale of maternity discrimination in the UK, which leaves around 54,000 women strapped for work each year.
The situation is exacerbated by tribunal fees of up to £1,200, which Champion says is pricing mothers out of accessing their rights.
She said: “The sheer scale of the problem under this Tory government is a real cause for alarm and has been made worse by the record rise in zero hour contracts and employment tribunal fees of up to £1,200 that are pricing mothers out of their employment rights.
“This government is systematically turning back the clock on gender economic equality.”
Social policy think-thank Resolution Foundation reported in January that this cohort of women also face a motherhood penalty as the gender pay gap increases significantly when they start having children.
Research from the Equality and Human Rights Commission and government’s business department indicates that one in nine women left their job because they were targeted for compulsory redundancy, or didn’t return to work because of poor treatment.
The study also suggested that women leaving work due to maternity discrimination costs tax payers approximately £16m each year.
The Equality and Human Rights Commission launched the Working Forward campaign in October last year, after finding that 77 per cent of mothers (390,000) said they had experienced negative or discriminatory events at work, despite 84 per cent of employers claiming to support pregnant women and maternity cover.
Signatories to the initiative pledge to offer flexible working practices and train line managers to adequately handle pregnancy at work.