Expectant mums should disclose their pregnancy to potential employers, according to new research from the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC).
Er, like hell they should. It's against the law to treat a pregnant woman unfavourably at work because she is pregnant, breastfeeding or has recently given birth, and I can't think of a better (worse?) example than making women disclose their fertility to their boss.
The Guardian reports:
The EHRC warned that many businesses were “decades behind the law” after a YouGov survey of 1,106 senior decision-makers revealed that 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 almost half (46%) said it was also reasonable to ask a woman if she had small children.
To an extent this research doesn't surprise me – it's well documented that mums face discrimination in the workplace – but it's dispiriting that 'decision-makers' think nothing of openly expressing their desire to discriminate against women on account of pregnancy or maternity.
What really cheeses me off about this data is the fact that 40% of employers reckon they've seen at least one pregnant woman in their workplace “take advantage” of their pregnancy, while around one third of those surveyed agreed with the statement that women are “generally less interested in career progression” compared with other members of staff.
For the love of Ada, it's as if the Equality Act doesn't even exist. I can't put it any better than the response from Pregnant Then Screwed, which campaigns for the rights of mothers who suffer discrimination at work:
The idea that pregnant women and new mums are lazy and a liability is absurd. Women are very capable of using their brain and their uterus simultaneously. It is not mothers who are at fault, it is biased, sexist employers who communicate badly, are fearful of change and can’t be bothered to adapt their practices so that they work for mothers.
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