In August the Women and Equalities Committee reported on pregnancy and maternity discrimination. The report made a number of recommendations regarding risk assessments, protection for women on causual or zero hours contracts, redundancy and steps to make it easier to enforce those rights in Tribunal. The government in it's response makes some of the right noises but in the current climate many will be sceptical that anything will actually change.
Although the government have said they will examine some of the issues raised there was little concrete commitment to do anything any time soon. Coupled with a rejection of longer time limits and no movement on fees for discrimination cases it must be likely that the current problems will be perpetuated and employers will know that in many circumstances women will not be in a position to enforce those rights in a Tribunal.
It is also interesting to note that the Committee felt the need to ask for express reassurance regarding the uncertainty over employment rights created by Brexit. The government response:
"This Government is clear that withdrawal from the EU will not lead to a diminution of employment rights. This Government will not roll back on the rights that British people are entitled to in the workplace, which are currently granted by EU law.This includes protecting the rights of pregnant women and new mothers.Maternity Leave and Pay are important rights where the UK has set its own high standards. The UK’s maternity offer is amongst the most generous in Europe and goes significantly beyond the EU minimum requirement of 14 weeks of paid maternity leave. The UK offers up to 52 weeks of Maternity Leave and up to 39 weeks of Statutory Maternity Pay or Maternity Allowance (subject to eligibility). Before the Pregnant Workers Directive was implemented, the UK already offered more than the EU minimum and has gone significantly further since then by extending maternity rights further and introducing Shared Parental Leave and Pay."
Read into that what you will...........
“New protections are needed, particularly for women who have casual or zero-hours employment arrangements, for ensuring that risks in the workplace for pregnant women are addressed, and for guarding against discriminatory redundancies after women return to work.”