One in four pregnant women have faced discrimination at work during the coronavirus outbreak, according to a survey carried out by the TUC.
The trade union body commissioned a poll of more than 3,400 women who have been pregnant or on maternity leave during the Covid-19 pandemic and found that 25% had experienced unfair treatment at work, including being singled out for redundancy or furlough.
Of those surveyed, low-paid pregnant women (earning less than £23,000 a year) were much more likely (28%) than women on higher salaries (17%) to have been forced to lose pay and stop work.
Some pregnant women said they were required to take sick leave when they were not sick, to take unpaid leave, to start their maternity leave early or to leave the workplace, because their employer did not act to make their workplace safe for them.
All these actions are unlawful. Pregnant women have the right to be suspended on full pay if workplace risks to their health cannot be removed or reduced, or suitable alternative work is not available.
TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady said: “Work should be safe for pregnant women and new mums. But our research has uncovered shocking levels of pregnancy and maternity discrimination during the coronavirus outbreak.
“Ministers must require every employer to do an individual risk assessment for every pregnant woman and new mum. If it’s not safe for women to keep working, employers must suspend them on full pay. Employers must stop illegally selecting pregnant women and new mums for redundancy. And bosses who break the law should be fined.”
Women who feel they have been treated unfairly at work should seek legal advice as they may be able to make a claim of sex discrimination.
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