Discrimination against pregnant women should not be tolerated - Fearon
Sinn Féin equality spokesperson Megan Fearon has said that discrimination against pregnant women should not be tolerated.
The Newry and Armagh MLA was commenting after a poll by the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) in Britain showed that a significant number of pregnant employees and working mothers continue to face barriers to equality of opportunity in employment.
“It is against the law not to appoint a woman because she is pregnant or might become pregnant. It’s clear that many employers need more support to better understand the basics of discrimination law and the rights of pregnant women and new mothers,” Megan Fearon said.
“The poll of 1,106 male and female decision-makers showed that 36 percent of employers thought it reasonable to ask a woman about her plans to have children with some 59 percent agreed that a woman should have to disclose during the recruitment process whether she is pregnant.
“It also showed that about one third of those questioned believed that women who become pregnant and new mothers in work are 'generally less interested in career progression' with 41 percent of employers saying that pregnancy in the workplace puts 'an unnecessary cost burden' on the workplace.
“Following these finding its comes as no surprise that the EHRC in Britain is calling for companies to sign up to its Working Forward initiative which aims to stamp out pregnancy and maternity discrimination.
“The Equality Commission here in the north produced a report entitled Pregnancy and Maternity Rights after conducting an investigation under Sex Discrimination legislation to assess and evaluate experiences of pregnant workers and mothers in employment here in the North.
“The most common cause of complaint on grounds of gender is from women who feel they have been treated unfairly either when they became pregnant or on their return to work after maternity leave.
“The rights of pregnant women and new mothers in the workplace should be protected and the view that pregnant and new mothers feel they are being discriminated against is unacceptable. Discrimination against pregnant women should not be tolerated.
“Sinn Féin remain committed to equal rights for all and to reducing discrimination and inequality in the workplace.”