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Maternity Discrimination

Volume 663: debated on Thursday 11 July 2019

11. What steps the Government are taking to help ensure that women are protected from maternity discrimination. (911883)

The law is absolutely clear: pregnancy and maternity discrimination against women in the workplace is unlawful. The Government recognise the importance of tackling pregnancy and maternity discrimination more widely, and have consulted on extending redundancy protections. We have received over 600 responses, which we are currently reviewing, and we will set out the next steps very soon.

Flexible working enables women to stay in work and develop their careers after they have children, and helps to prevent maternity discrimination. It could also help to close the gender pay gap. It has made a huge difference to a member of staff in my constituency office with regard to getting back into work after having a child. What steps can my hon. Friend outline to ensure that flexible working is offered in employment contracts, and is also a priority when advertising the job so that people understand that it is a possibility?

My hon. Friend is quite right. This Government recognise that we need to do as much as we can for working families, and particularly for women who may suffer from discrimination. She is right to talk about flexibility. She will know that the Government have committed to consulting on a duty on employers to consider whether a job can be done flexibly and to make that very clear in the advertisement for the job.

Following the long overdue consultation on the rights of pregnant women and new mothers, does the Minister expect the Government to support the recommendation made by the Women and Equalities Committee that the German model offers the best solution for protecting women from the worst employers?

The hon. Lady is right: we have had the consultation, on which we will hopefully make further announcements soon. It is absolutely right that we have consulted on the extension of the pregnancy and maternity protections for up to six months. The Government have looked at the German approach to enforcement, which uses a state body to grant permissions to make new mothers redundant. This would diverge from the UK system of enforcement of individuals’ employment rights through employment tribunals.