Health and safety failures cause thousands of pregnant women to leave their jobs
An enquiry into possible discrimination against mothers and pregnant women has revealed that as many as 21,000 mothers or pregnant women have left their job due to health and safety risks not being addressed.
The committee of MPs recently held a second session, with evidence provided by two panels. The Women and Equalities Committee at Westminster will focus on the evidence, looking at the plan of action by the UK government.
The inquiry was launched following the publication of a report by the Department for Business Enterprise and Skills (BIS) and the Equalities and Human Rights Commission (EHRC). Although the report revealed that 84% of employers thought that care of pregnant women and mothers would benefit their company, 77% of mothers and expectant women believed that they had experienced negativity and possible discrimination.
The research also revealed that 4% of mothers had left their job due to risks in health and safety that had not been dealt with. This could mean that up to 21,000 mums are affected every year.
The report discovered that it is more important for health and safety assessments to be conducted in roles that are higher risk, as a change of duty may be required. However, although a change of duty may be required to fulfil health and safety criteria, it is not necessary to remove the person from their normal place of work, according to a spokesperson for the Fire Brigades Union.
Health and safety generally requires a move to lighter duties, or may even involve wearing a kind of specialist workwear more suitable for a woman who is expecting.