The good practice guide developed by ACAS in partnership with the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) – ‘Managing redundancy for pregnant employees and those on maternity leave’ – comes as the Coalition’s policies and the recession has driven record numbers to contact the union over pregnancy and maternity discrimination.
With reports of employers failing to properly consider such issues as flexible working mounting.
Unite is also proud to support the ‘Valuing Maternity’ campaign, as part of the union’s commitment to tackling rogue employers who unfairly and unlawfully target pregnant women and new mothers for redundancy.
The campaign led by charity Maternity Action, is calling for more job security for pregnant women and new mothers, maternity and parental leave that promotes real equality, and services to support a safe and healthy pregnancy.
Furthermore, Unite is deeply concerned that the government’s plans for new maternity and parental leave arrangements, due to be published in a new bill, possibly as early as next week, will further undermine pregnant women and new mothers.
Unite assistant general secretary, Diana Holland, said: “Employers must understand that discriminating against pregnant women and new mothers will never be tolerated. The record numbers of women who have contacted the union will now know their rights with the guidelines providing clear advice.
“The coalition government has a lot to answer for – its policies and public funding cuts are bearing down heaviest on women and now it wants to cut maternity leave. Unite fears that the plans will ride rough-shod over a mother’s employment rights’.
Unite national officer for equality, Siobhan Endean, said: “From the moment a woman becomes pregnant, she faces immediate financial penalties – thousands lose their jobs, and many more face disadvantage and reduced opportunities in the workplace. This has to stop.
“Instead of this discriminatory bill, Unite is calling on the government to bring in specific measures to tackle maternity discrimination. We also want the government to reserve the first 26 weeks of maternity leave for mothers to reduce pressure on women to return early for the convenience of their employers.”
Unite will be working with Maternity Action and its partners to show how we can improve pregnant women’s health and the health of new mothers, safety and wellbeing through union membership and organisation in the workplace.