‘No surprise’ | 1 in 4 pregnant workers worried about maternity discrimination

1 in 4 pregnant workers worried about maternity discrimination

More than one in four (26%) expectant mothers feel reluctant to share their pregnancy news due to fear of the stigma they may face from colleagues and managers, according to new research.

And the study, from Culture Shift, shows that this jumped to almost half (46%) for those who had been in employment for less than six months when they fell pregnant.

In fact, pregnancy and maternity discrimination was the fifth most common discrimination claim from 2020 to 2021.

The claims were based on mostly the following subject matters:

  • Sham redundancies

  • Offensive comments to pregnant employees

  • Failure to implement flexible working options

  • Being overlooked for promotion

Are there laws to prevent maternity discrimination?

In the UK, there are laws to some extent to protect individuals during their pregnancy period.

The most common and implemented law is the Protected Period.

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The Protected Period is under the Equality Act 2010. This period covers the start of when a woman’s pregnancy begins and ends. It also states that if the woman has the right to ordinary and additional maternity leave, the protected period will be at the end of the additional maternity leave period or (if earlier) when she returns to work after pregnancy.

Research reveals a different case

While there are laws in the UK to protect pregnant employees, research reveals that maternity discrimination prevails in the UK.

According to research from Culture Shift, more than one in five (21%) know someone who has faced maternity discrimination at work.

While one in eight (12%) have experienced maternity discrimination themselves.

Gemma McCall, the Co-Founder and CEO of Culture Shift, said: “Society assumes all women will become mothers- and yet, we don’t like it when they get pregnant and we employ them.”

Research also suggests that more than one in four (26%) expectant mothers feel reluctant to share their pregnancy news due to fear of the stigma they may face from colleagues and managers.

McCall, comments: “All of a sudden, this societal expectation we’ve been pushing onto them since birth becomes an inconvenience and so, it’s no surprise that 1 in 4 expectant mothers hide their pregnancy.”


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Lead Evangelist EMEA of Snowflake, Eva Murray, puts forth: “We face so many expectations, no matter how we decide to live our lives. I’ve heard a friend once question whether a colleague of his should be promoted given she wanted a family.”

Also, Gav Winter, CEO of RapidSpike, states: “I’ve 100% heard senior people say that we shouldn’t employ women when they are childbearing age (settled, just married were the key ‘tells’ so I was told). I was disgusted.”

The comments and research reveal a common theme against pregnant individuals which is that indeed maternity discrimination is present in many businesses and various industries.

Maternity discrimination is a reality and to state otherwise would be denying the truth of what pregnant women witness within their workforce.

It’s vital to recognise the troubles that pregnant individuals can already face. Don’t add or reinforce maternity discrimination against an employee.



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Comments (1)

  • Katherine
    Katherine
    Thu, 6 Oct 2022 1:29pm BST
    I completely agree with this article. I work in HR and am holding off telling my employer about pregnancy until as late as possible. With discussions at the moment about promotions / salary increases I have no confidence that they will treat me the same way as now once they know I'm pregnant.

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