Project aims to tackle maternity discrimination

Pregnant work

Mothers are being asked to share their experiences as a charity aims to highlight the support available to women

13th March 2019 by Gareth Jones 0 Comments

Mothers are being asked to share their experiences to help tackle workplace discrimination.

Glasgow-based, community development charity, Outside The Box is calling on mums to help tackle maternity discrimination in the workplace by sharing their experiences of the support they have had.

Using an online survey to collect stories of things that have improved mental health and wellbeing of mums returning to work, they hope to provide examples of best practice and raise awareness of the problems that employers may be contributing to.

Outside The Box has already been working with groups of mums over the past year who shared their stories of discrimination. They found that mums are being discriminated against because they are pregnant in the workplace, because they are having to go on maternity and because they are a mum returning to work.

Its findings are backed up by statistics provided by the Department of Business, which show that every year in the UK, as many as 54,000 mums feel that they have to leave their jobs.

Three quarters (77%) of mums say they have had a negative or discriminatory experience during pregnancy, maternity leave, and/or on return from maternity leave. One in five mums (20% - or up to 100,000 women) said that they experienced negative comments or harassment in relation to flexible working or pregnancy.

Jill Keegan, community development advisor at Outside The Box, said: “I was discriminated against in previous employment from the point I told my boss I was pregnant to returning to work six months later. I constantly had my professional capabilities called into question and began to believe I wasn’t capable or good enough. It resulted in me leaving a post I had been in for five years - I could no longer cope with feeling so low, isolated and useless.

“What makes things good for me at work as a mum is being in an environment that supports people’s mental health and wellbeing. Flexible working is a key component of this, but relationships built on trust and support allow for open lines of communication with my boss and colleagues. Social support in the workplace has helped me feel valued as an important part of a bigger team. Being respected as a person with a life and responsibilities is liberating – I don’t feel useless anymore.”

 

Mums Supporting Mums - What Helped You from Outside The Box on Vimeo.

The charity has said many women are unaware of their rights, and this lack of awareness is part of the problem. In fact, all mums have the right to 52 weeks maternity leave with the right to return to work thereafter and have the right to be offered a suitable alternative vacancy if they are made redundant during maternity leave.