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Expectant mothers still experience pregnancy discrimination at work

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Pregnant women still continue to face problems at work, according to survey results released today during National Pregnancy Week.

The survey, which questioned 1200 people, revealed that over a fifth knew an expectant mother who had experienced difficulties at work because of her pregnancy – rising to a third amongst women aged 25-34. Experiences included facing unpleasant remarks or unfounded criticism, being given unsuitable work and being sacked.

However, 84% of respondents disagreed with the statement that if a woman becomes pregnant it shows that she is less dedicated to her career compared with a woman who chooses not to have children.

Jenny Watson, Deputy Chair of the Equal Opportunities Commission said: “We hear of quite appalling cases of women who have been demoted, disciplined or even sacked simply for having a baby. And this discrimination during pregnancy continues to happen despite a widespread understanding of pregnant women's employment rights.”

The EOC published the findings to coincide with the launch of its investigation into pregnancy discrimination at work, entitled Pregnant and Productive. The campaign will run until February 2005 and will look at the concerns of some employers in managing pregnancy at work and why some employers fail to treat pregnant women fairly.

Patricia Hewitt, Secretary for State and Minister for Women said: "Employers who discriminate against pregnant women are breaking the law and could be liable to pay compensation. They are being foolish and harming their own businesses by excluding talented women from the workforce."

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