A recent survey of over 1,000 business decision makers by the Equality and Human Rights Commission has found that a large proportion of employers hold antiquated views.
Maternity and sex discrimination in the workplace:
Nearly half of employers think it is acceptable to ask a female applicant if she has children during an interview (46%) and believe a female employee should have to be employed for at least a year before deciding to have children (44%). Furthermore 59% thought that woman should disclose whether or not they are pregnant during the recruitment process. Perhaps most alarmingly, 63% of HR professionals surveyed agreed with these statements.
The survey also that found that a significant number of employers believed that women with more than one child could be a burden (44%), pregnant employees were a burden (41%), some employees take advantage of their pregnancy (40%) and employees are less interested in their career after children (32%).
This survey highlights an alarming lack of understanding of the Equality Act and this lack of understanding could leave employers liable for maternity/pregnancy discrimination claims. Discrimination claims can be bought by workers or applicants and include an award for injury to feeling and maternity/pregnancy discrimination claims regularly have one of the highest average awards. This average award is only likely to increase to deter further discrimination.