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Campaign calls for pregnancy discrimination stories

A campaign to highlight pregnancy discrimination in the workplace is gathering personal stories to expose injustice and make a case for change.

Women who have been badly treated because of pregnancy or maternity are being invited to share their stories anonymously on the Pregnant Then Screwed website, raising awareness of what it calls a 'systemic' problem.

The project, founded by Joeli Brearley, who says she experienced 'horrific discrimination' while pregnant, claims that 60,000 women a year are forced out of their jobs due to pregnancy.

In addition, it says there are many more who are demoted, harassed, passed over for promotion, or lose contracts if self-employed.

Growing problem

The number of pregnancy and maternity discrimination cases rose by a fifth between 2008 and 2013, with more than 9,000 women seeking recourse at employment tribunals.

But the full scale of the problem is difficult to ascertain as many cases are not being taken forward. And since 2013, a £1,200 fee for bringing a case to tribunal may have discouraged some from doing so, analysts claim.

Ms Brearley spoke of women who are reluctant to act against unfavourable treatment even though the law is on their side, fearing to upset their employer or being branded a troublemaker just when they have new responsibilities.

The three-month window for employment tribunal claims was also mentioned as an obstacle, coming when the demands of caring for a baby are often at their most challenging. Part of the campaign is to extend the time limit from three to twelve months.

The Equality Act 2010 protects women in the workplace from being treated unfavourably because of pregnancy, pregnancy-related illness, compulsory maternity leave, or their right to take maternity leave.

Acas publications and services

For more information about discrimination issues, visit the Equality and discrimination pages.

Acas experts can visit your workplace and help you develop and implement the best policies for a range of issues associated with Parents and carers, including matters related to pregnancy and maternity.

Acas also offers practical training on issues related to Maternity, paternity and adoption, Discrimination, Flexible working, and Equality, diversity and the Equality Act 2010.

For free, impartial advice and guidance visit Acas Helpline Online.

Visit the Acas Training Courses, Workshops and Projects area for more information.

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