According to Britain’s Equal Opportunities Commission (EOC), many women continue be demoted or lose their jobs due to a pregnancy. Research by the Commission indicates that over 500 British women contacted them over the past year with queries of pregnancy discrimination. The majority of these women had been fired or were in danger of dismissal because they were pregnant.
The EOC received over 16,000 inquiries about sexual harassment and discrimination in the workplace last year. Of these, the largest percentage of calls were directed towards the issues of pregnancy and maternity. Pay inequity is also a serious problem in Britain. British women currently earn approximately 80 pence for every pound a man earns.
Reports by the EOC also indicated that many employers and senior staff members believe that sex discrimination no longer occurs in the workplace and that gender equality has been achieved. The chairwoman of the Commission, Julie Mellnor, commented that “Never mind going back to work and family friendly policies if, when a woman gets pregnant, she is in danger of being sacked.”
The British government has recently proposed new policies to help breach gender equity such as a national childcare strategy, the minimum wage, parental leave, and paid paternity leave.