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Taylor Review: Pregnancy and Maternity Discrimination

Volume 638: debated on Thursday 29 March 2018

4. What steps the Government are taking to implement the recommendations of the Taylor review of modern working practices on strengthening legislation on pregnancy and maternity discrimination. (904681)

As we said in the Government’s response to the Matthew Taylor review, we will update and consolidate pregnancy and maternity discrimination guidance on this summer. We will also review statutory redundancy protection for pregnant women and new mothers, and consider whether it is sufficient.

The Government have twice, and perhaps now three times, committed to review legislative protection against unfair redundancy for pregnant women and new mothers. When will that review be published, and do the Government still intend to consider the legislative options recommended in the report by the Women and Equalities Committee?

We have stated that the review of the legislation on redundancy protection will consider that issue and report within a year. I recognise that this is a serious matter and I am trying to turbocharge the process to ensure that we report sooner. I reassure the hon. Lady that we take the recommendations of the Committee very seriously, and all options are open.

The Minister knows that pregnant women deserve better—I know he is about to become a dad, so this is a very personal issue for him. It is estimated that about 54,000 women a year are dismissed or made redundant, or feel that they have no choice but to leave their jobs, and that is not good enough. Much of this is cloaked in secrecy because of the use of non-disclosure agreements to withhold information about potentially unlawful acts of dismissing women when they are pregnant. I hope that the Minister will put NDAs on his list of things to consider when he reviews the legislation, as he has generously promised to do.

My right hon. Friend is right: the Griffiths household is waiting with bated breath—it is days before the next Griffiths generation appears on the planet.

I thank my right hon. Friend for the advice that the Committee has given me since I have had ministerial responsibility for this issue. Discriminating against women in the workplace because they are pregnant or new mothers is unlawful, and the Government are determined to stamp it out. She raises the issue of NDAs, and that topical and serious matter is at the top of my agenda.

Thank you, Mr Speaker. I wish the Minister well with his impending arrival. In addition to my obvious interest in this question, I remind the House of my former role as chair of the charity Maternity Action.

It is now two years since the Government published research by the Equality and Human Rights Commission that I commissioned as a Minister back in 2013. That research showed that one in 25 pregnant women felt forced to leave their jobs because health and safety risks are not addressed. It is more than time for concrete action to tackle that, so will the Minister bring forward legislation to give pregnant women a clear right to paid leave if their employer cannot, or will not, provide a safe working environment?

I thank the hon. Lady for her work in this area and wish her the best of luck with her impending arrival. Health and Safety Executive guidance helps employers to meet their health and safety obligations towards pregnant women and new mothers. Working with the Equality and Human Rights Commission, we have delivered several presentations to partnerships to share good practice, but she is absolutely right that we need to do more. I understand her point, and while I cannot commit to the request she makes today, we are certainly considering all options in this area.