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Women in Work

Volume 623: debated on Thursday 23 March 2017

I am delighted that there are now more women in work than ever before, and that the female employment rate is nearly 70%, which is the highest on record. The female employment rate has increased by more since 2010 than it increased during the three previous Parliaments combined.

Recent figures show that record-breaking numbers of women are in work under this Government. Does my hon. Friend agree that it is only by creating a stronger, fairer economy that works for everyone that we will continue to see records being broken?

My hon. Friend is absolutely right to draw attention to that. We want to ensure that all women can fulfil their potential. That is why the Government have extended the right to flexible working and introduced shared parental leave. From September, we will double the 30 hours childcare offer.

According to Maternity Action, 54,000 women are forced out of work each year due to maternity discrimination. What steps are the Government taking to address that unacceptable gender inequality?

Maternity discrimination and pregnancy discrimination in any form is utterly illegal and must be tackled. Women must feel that they can bring cases forward, which is why we are committed to ensuring people from all backgrounds can access justice. The introduction of the early conciliation service through ACAS has meant that people have to avoid the stress of going through an employment tribunal hearing.