I look after the HR function in my company of c.400 employees. I have had a discussion with my boss (a director of the listed company for which I work) in which he has expounded his view … at length … that maternity rules over job preservation for women returning from either ordinary or additional maternity leave is wrong and that it should be down to the employer/employee relationship to determine whether a woman can have either her job or any job back at the end of her maternity leave. He feels that it is anti competitive for the UK to have such “generous” (his word not mine) rules on keeping jobs open for women who have taken maternity leave as it is costly for industry with it being more costly the more senior the woman is. He is also of the view that UK PLC must remain competitive in a global world and that it is now in competition with countries like India and China. He has also stated that were he to recruit for a job, such as that of an office manager, and had a male candidate and a female one of child bearing age that he would give the job to the male candidate because of the greater certainty in keeping that employee longer term.

The rights and wrongs of his particular views and stance can be endlessly debated. Clearly, were he to put any of it into practice, it would be contrary to the law and would potentially leave the company facing a sex discrimination case and negative PR.

Question to all of you is should I be doing anything about this? Or should I just bite my tongue on the basis that individuals are entitled to their views?

Sue Brent

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