Jo Swinson to speak at event launching Action Plan on tackling maternity discrimination

This Saturday, an alliance of groups including Maternity Action, chaired by former Lib Dem Minister Jo Swinson, launches an action plan aimed at tackling maternity discrimination. The event takes place at the excellent Resources for London venue in Central London, where the Social Liberal Forum Conference was held last July.

No matter where you live in the country, you can take part on Twitter by following #maternityrights and by watching the live stream here.

If you are able to go, you can still register here.

Here are some more details about the event:

Please come and join us as we launch our Action Plan to tackle pregnancy and maternity-related discrimination. Working together with a number of other organisations, under the group name the Alliance for Maternity Rights, we have developed a list of all the things that Government needs to do in order to tackle this shocking form of discrimination.

This issue affects women, children and their families, so bring your partners and your children and babies. We will have space to park buggies, a craft table for kids and refreshments for both children and adults.

The event will include a panel session with speakers from Maternity Action and NCT as well as hearing from a woman about her experiences of discrimination.  We will hear from:

Jo Swinson, Chair of Maternity Action
Elizabeth Duff, Senior Policy Advisor,NCT
Rosalind Bragg, Director, Maternity Action
Amelia, speaking about her experience of pregnancy and maternity discrimination
We will also be screening video messages of support from Parliamentarians

The event will be live streamed as well, so if you are unable to attend in person please do log on to our youtube channel hereand watch online.

We will be live tweeting from the event using the #MaternityRights and we will pass twitter comments and questions to the panel.

I’ve come across countless examples of women being demoted, or even losing their jobs, when they have babies. In August this year, the Commons Women and Equalities Committee published a report which said that maternity discrimination was getting worse and recommended action for improvement.

The Government must make changes in laws and protections to ensure a safe working environment for new and expectant mothers, to prevent discriminatory redundancies and to increase protection for casual, agency and zero-hours workers. It must also provide incentives and ensure better enforcement to encourage better employer practice. Currently, the burden of enforcement rests with the individual experiencing discrimination, but the number of women taking enforcement action is low. e Government must take urgent action to remove barriers to justice and should seek ways of reducing the burden on women and making it easier for them to take action. It must also set out how it will monitor whether outcomes are improving for women.

Jo Swinson said at the time:

There is an urgent need for Government action to reduce the alarmingly high rates of pregnancy discrimination at work.  We have yet to see a coherent Government strategy to address this.

Pregnant women should not be forced to resign their jobs because of poor health and safety compliance.  These women should have the full support of the law to protect their health and the health of their baby.

Too many women are unfairly selected for redundancy and lack the resources to challenge this.  We need to provide stronger legal protection against discrimination for women facing redundancy during pregnancy, maternity leave and return to work.

Employment tribunal fees of up to £1,200 make justice unaffordable for most women.  We need to remove financial barriers to accessing justice if we want women to exercise their rights.

Women on zero hours and agency contracts deserve maternity rights at work but many are excluded from basic entitlements, such as paid time off for antenatal appointments.

The rates of pregnancy discrimination have skyrocketed in recent years, and will continue to rise if we don’t take action now.  The Women and Equalities Committee recommendations cover the key interventions which Government needs to pursue to ensure women’s rights are respected.

Saturday’s event will provide some considered detail on what should happen next.

* Caron Lindsay is Editor of Liberal Democrat Voice and blogs at Caron's Musings

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3 Comments

  • This is very important. I think we all know someone who at least suspects they’ve been discriminated against during pregnancy.

    There was a feature on the news yesterday where a family who had premature triplets, who all needed to stay in hospital for a number of weeks, and then make regular return trips for check-ups. She realised that regular maternity leave wasn’t sufficient, and decided to quit her job. She was campaigning to get maternity leave extended for families in her situation, and it seems a very reasonable suggestion.

  • Ruth Bright 26th Oct '16 - 9:15pm

    Such a shame that we have failed to act on this issue within the party itself. Always best to get your own house in order first!

  • Ruth – hear hear, I expect a deafening silence in response.

    In relation to the main article, I would say that it seems a bit all over the place. Demands for new laws should not be the knee jerk response of liberals. As it manages to identify enforcement of current laws is the biggest challenge and the costs involved (not just tribunal costs but legal advice). Something doesn’t need to be illegal 20 times it just needs one law that is enforced.

    Add in the amount of discrimination that is incompetent employers stumbling around in confusion new laws simply add to the confusion. The solution should be simple laws with easy access to ability to utilise them.

    I’ll leave the other observations as LDV filters seem to be trying to keep that observation out.

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