64% of Pregnant Women Received Hurtful Comments About Appearance from Bosses, New Research Reveals

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Photo Credits - Kaitlyn Baker via Unsplash

Pregnant Then Screwed‘s recent study has illuminated the pervasive discrimination still present in today’s industries. The study found an astonishing fact: one in every 61 pregnant women stated that their boss proposed ending their pregnancy.

To determine the level of prejudice women experience in the job after becoming moms, Pregnant Then Screwed and Women In Data polled over 24,000 parents for in-depth research. The results showed that a considerable 52% of all moms experienced some type of discrimination during their pregnancy, maternity leave, or following their return to work, showing that this problem affects more than simply a tiny minority of parents.

READ: Not the Right Time For Mandatory Ethnicity Pay Gap Reporting, Government Says

More on the Survey Findings

Through the research, they found that having children can have a detrimental influence on many women’s careers; 19% of them decide to leave their employers as a result. Unsettlingly, 10% of pregnant women experienced bullying or harassment at work or when they returned, and 7% lost their employment for various reasons, including redundancy, termination, refusal of requests for flexible work schedules, or health and safety concerns. These numbers can be expanded to show that up to 41,752 expectant or new mothers may experience termination or redundancy per year.

Furthermore, despite the Health and Safety Executive’s suggestion for private, healthy, and safe venues for expressing and storing milk, 90% of breastfeeding mothers were forced to use inappropriate facilities, such as toilets. It is never appropriate to express breast milk in a bathroom.

It’s not always their bosses who discriminate against women. Surprisingly, 73% of women said that their maternity leave or pregnancy had prompted nasty comments from coworkers, and 74% said that their performance had been inferred to have suffered as a result. Inappropriate comments regarding their appearance during pregnancy were also made by 64% of their supervisor or coworkers.

Women are also treated differently depending on their reproductive health decisions in addition to their decisions about having children. Alarmingly, 31.58% of women who admitted to having an abortion said they had experienced unfair or discriminatory treatment as a result. What’s more alarming is that 57.6% of people choose not to tell their workplace about their abortion, probably out of fear of criticism.

Echoed by the UK Government

These experiences expressed by the participants of Pregnant then Screwed’s research align with the findings of previous research done by the UK Government through the Equality and Human Rights Commission in 2016. 

In total, 77% of mothers experienced negative or potentially discriminatory incidents during pregnancy, maternity leave, or upon their return to work. Approximately 11% felt compelled to leave their jobs, including dismissals (1%), compulsory redundancies where others were unaffected (1%), or being treated so poorly that resignation became the only option (9%). For 4%, job departure resulted from unaddressed risks. Moreover, 10% were discouraged from attending antenatal appointments. While 68% of mothers submitted flexible working requests, only about three-quarters of these were approved, and 51% of those approved faced adverse consequences as a result.

READ: Flexible Working Bill Receives Royal Assent | Here’s How Businesses Can Prepare

On the employers’ side, 84% of businesses support women who are expecting or on maternity leave, which increases staff retention (58%) and boosts employee morale (20%). Although the majority of employers handled statutory rights properly, some had trouble implementing greater redundancy protection during ordinary maternity leave (28% thought it was unfair, and 13% found it difficult to execute). During recruiting, 25% thought it was appropriate to inquire about plans for having children, and 70% thought women should disclose pregnancy. Most employers (80%) and returning mothers (78%) thought that pregnant women and returning mothers were committed to their jobs, while some had opposing opinions, thinking that pregnancy resulted in financial problems (27%), diminished desire for professional advancement (17%), and diminished dedication from returning moms (7%).

The survey emphasises supporting pregnant women and mothers on maternity leave, with 84% of employers recognising its benefits. Challenges arose with enhanced redundancy protection during Ordinary Maternity Leave, and discriminatory attitudes during recruitment demand ongoing awareness. The findings stress the need for inclusive workplaces that prioritise the well-being and rights of all employees.

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