Study: UK Pregnant Women Face Discrimination in the Workplace

A recent study of 1,100 pregnant women in the United Kingdom finds that pregnant women are not receiving adequate support in the workplace. The Equal Opportunities Commission (EOC) and Tommy’s Baby Charity, an organization which promotes safe and healthy pregnancies, conducted the survey to assess attitudes and experiences of women during pregnancy. The research showed that one in six women were afraid to tell their employers they were pregnant.

The survey found that 45 percent of women in the UK are treated unfairly by their employers. Ten percent of expectant mothers faced negative reactions from bosses when announcing their pregnancy. Some women gave accounts of being told they could or should terminate their pregnancies. One woman announced her pregnancy to her boss, who subsequently suggested, “Oh well, you could still lose it yet. It’s early days,” The Independent reports.

Although companies are legally obligated to allocate paid time-off without discrimination, numerous women revealed a fear of being fired. The EOC confirmed this fear, finding that 30,000 women lose their job as a result of pregnancy. One in four women were under pressure from their employers who expected them to work just as they did before. In spite of medical circumstances, one woman was made to lift heavy boxes while pregnant.

Jane Brewin, the chief executive of Tommy’s Baby Charity told The Scotsman, “These are alarming statistics, as they show just how little pregnant women at work are being supported through their pregnancy – and how this is detrimentally affecting them, both mentally and physically.”


The Independent 10/3/06; The Scotsman 10/1/06

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