Women Returning From Maternity Leave Face Discrimination

A new report finds that women coming back from maternity leave face job loss and pay cuts

You would think that in 2015, a woman could have a baby and a career and no one would give her any flak for it. But a new report out of England suggests that women who return from maternity leave are facing more discrimination in the workplace then they were a decade ago.

The report, published by the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC), estimates that nearly 54,000 British women are forced out of their jobs each year. A survey of 3,200 women, conducted by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, found that 11 percent of women reported being dismissed, being made to feel redundant or treated so poorly that they were forced to leave their jobs.

While the EHRC admits that those who are discriminated against after their maternity leave are a minority, the fact is that those women still face prejudice that they shouldn’t have to. These prejudices include having jobs axed due to “restructuring”, being passed over for promotion or having less responsibility than before. Of those who returned to the same job, one in 20 came back to a cut in pay or bonuses.

Julie Humphryes is an architect who was awarded over £250,000 after being edged out of her job by a co-worker who was given credit for her design work. She says that when she went to her boss to complain about her co-worker, he told her she was just having an over-active imagination. He called it “maternity paranoia”.

“It would be inconceivable to suggest that men returning to work after paternity leave would have their jobs taken away from them,” Humphryes told the Telegraph.

Joeli Brearly is a freelance project manager who was let go by her main client after they learned she was pregnant. She set up Pregnant Then Screwed, a campaign to draw attention to workplace discrimination and a place where women share their stories.

“The worst affected are those who face a slow-drip feed of bullying and torment, which leads to them leaving of their own free will, as they can’t cope with the stress,” said Brearly.

“Then there’s those who are simply ignored. They are not put up for promotion, or have responsibilities taken from them. Nothing is said directly, they are just made to feel worthless.”

Have you faced discrimination since announcing your pregnancy or coming back from maternity leave? Share your story with us in the comments. 

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