Employers in the dark ages over recruitment of pregnant women and new mothers

19 February 2018

New statistics from the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) reveal that many British employers have worrying attitudes towards unlawful behaviour when it comes to recruiting women.

A survey conducted by YouGov on behalf of EHRC was commissioned to understand managers’ attitudes around pregnancy and maternity discrimination. 1,106 senior decision makers in business were surveyed and key findings include:

  • 36% of private sector employers agree that it is reasonable to ask women about their plans to have children in the future during recruitment

  • 59% agree that a woman should have to disclose whether she is pregnant during the recruitment process

  • 46% of employers agree it is reasonable to ask women if they have young children during the recruitment process

  • 44% of employers agree that women should work for an organisation for at least a year before deciding to have children

  • 44% of employers agrees that women, who have had more than one pregnancy while in the same job, can be a ‘burden’ to their team

  • 40% of employers claim to have seen at least one pregnant woman in their workplace ‘take advantage’ of their pregnancy

  • 33% of employers believe that women who become pregnant and new mothers in work are ‘generally less interested in career progression’ when compared to other employees in their company

  • 41% employers agreed that pregnancy in the workplace puts ‘an unnecessary cost burden’ on the workplace


The poll also highlighted that employers are struggling to provide pregnant women and new mothers with the support they need:

  • 51% of employers agree that there is sometimes resentment amongst employees towards women who are pregnant or on maternity leave

  • 36% of employers disagree that it is easy to protect expectant or new mothers from discrimination in the workplace


The EHRC is calling on employers to put a stake in the ground to eliminate these attitudes and, more importantly, pregnancy and maternity discrimination in the workplace for good. The Working Forward campaign asks businesses to commit to taking action on at least two of the three action areas in addition to leadership: employee confidence, supporting line managers and flexible working. It also provides employers with advice, guidance and resources to deliver on their pledges.


For further details, go to EHRC’s website.