If you’re at a job interview, should you have to say if you’re expecting? What about if you plan to have children in the not-so-distant future? New research has unveiled employer’s thoughts on hiring new and/or prospective mothers, and it doesn’t make for easy reading
A new survey from YouGov has revealed the extent of discrimination for prospective and new mothers in the workplace. Questioning 1,106 senior decision-makers – a mix of both men and women – revealed a third of those working for private companies thought it was reasonable to ask a woman about her plans to have children in the future during the recruitment process; 59% said she should have to disclose if she is pregnant, and 46% thought it reasonable to ask if she had small children.
Rebecca Hilsenrath, the chief executive of the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC), said the findings were “depressing” and accused many British companies of “living in the dark ages”. “We should all know very well that it is against the law not to appoint a woman because she is pregnant or might become pregnant. Yet we also know women routinely get asked questions around family planning in interviews. 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.”
Read more: Returning to work after having a baby
A further 44% of decision-makers believed women should work for an organisation for at least a year before deciding to have children, with the same amount agreeing that those who had more than one pregnancy in the same job could be ‘a burden to their team’. Unfortunately, it’s not just senior staff who look negatively upon pregnant women; 40% of employees think that pregnancy in the workplace puts an unnecessary cost burden on the workplace, with half saying there is sometimes resentment towards said women or those on maternity leave.
In response, the EHRC has launched a new campaign to improve workplaces for pregnant women and new parents. Working Forward will offer companies advice and help them to improve in areas such as flexible working and employee confidence. Firms already on board include Nationwide, Royal Mail and Transport for London.