Miller's Bill: Gov must adopt the Pregnancy & Maternity Bill
In 2016, the UK Government asked the Equalities and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) to investigate the nature and prevalence of pregnancy and maternity discrimination in Britain.
The EHCR revealed that approximately 1 in 9 mothers (11%) were dismissed; made compulsorily redundant; or treated so poorly they felt they had to leave their jobs. If this figure is scaled to match the population, this means as many as 54,000 women are being forced out of their jobs every year. To address these figures, the EHRC made a series of practical recommendations. Four years later, the UK Government is yet to act on a single one.
Due to the Government’s inaction, pregnant women and new mothers are in more danger than ever before. The COVID-19 pandemic has triggered an economic downturn and organisations like Maternity Action are predicting a wave of unlawful discrimination and unfair redundancies as businesses ‘adjust’. As the country fights to regain its footing in the wake of the pandemic, we must ensure that pregnant women and new mothers are not unfairly disadvantaged. For this reason, the Royal College of Midwives is joining Maternity Action in calling for the Government to adopt the Pregnancy & Maternity (Redundancy Protection) Bill recently introduced by Maria Miller MP.
Miller’s Bill would see the current, inadequate law replaced with a new framework of protection for pregnant women and new mothers. Most notably, the Bill would prevent employers from making a woman redundant from the time she notifies them she is pregnant until six months after the end of her maternity leave, including those who experience stillbirth or miscarriage. This change would represent an enormous step forward when compared with the current system, under which women are forced to shoulder the burden of challenging an unfair dismissal at an Employment Tribunal – a process which often costs in excess of £10,000.