As stunning as it may sound, around 50,000 women employed in organizations around the world take maternity leave each year, only to be left out of a job or their original position at the end of their leave. The reason for the same? Employee discrimination!
These women make up only a small portion of the 340000 women who apply for maternity leave each year (amounting to just about 14%). However, it is this small section of the working women population that seems to get caught in a web of tactical politics within the organization.
Accordingly, most of these women are either forced to take up a role with significantly lesser responsibilities and lower pay packages, others are dismissed constructively. And then, there are some who end up staying the same job and role without being considered for promotions. Some organizations even go to the extent of refusing flexible work hours for new mothers.
Well, things could look a bit brighter for these new mommies who are willing to stand up for their rights, even if it means going against the very organization they work for. The new rules put forward by the government indicate that a woman can pay £1,200 to take up a case related to maternity discrimination in the workplace. And with the next election around the corner, the government is also trying to focus more on basic maternity rights which would prevent organizations from flouting these rules, in addition to working on ways to offer cheaper and flexible childcare options for women.
Nevertheless, many feel that working women would still continue to face maternity discrimination from their employers as long as they remain ignorant of the basic employee rights. A survey conducted be Slater and Gordon in fact, revealed that out of 1000 working mothers, nearly half did not know their rights, or what they would need to expect from their employers when they get back to work after the maternity leave.Many women also have come to accept the fact that they would not be considered as seriously in the office as before owing to their ‘new-mother’ status.
Women make up nearly a fifth of the entire workforce. And maternity discrimination would mean letting them down at a very important phase of their lives when they need to balance their personal and professional lives carefully. And with many of these women facing the same ordeal in their offices, the time has come for the government to take maternity discrimination seriously, and take national action on those responsible for it!