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Mums feel discriminated at work

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Découvrir un aspect de la notion « Espace privé et espace public ».

Points clés
  • Tandis que 25 % des femmes enceintes et jeunes mamans se sentent victimes de discrimination, trop peu osent porter plainte par peur du licenciement.
  • Pourtant, ce comportement de la part des employeurs est illégal.
  • Des mesures pour lutter contre cette discrimination sont prises au niveau gouvernemental.
  • Cette manière de penser et d’agir laisse totalement de côté que les hommes sont tout autant concernés par l’éducation des enfants que les femmes !
Pour bien comprendre
  • L'attitude des employeurs et des collègues
  • Les différences encore existantes entre hommes et femmes au travail

According to a recent survey by the law firm Slater and Gordon, one in four mums in England feels discriminated at work while they are expecting a baby or when they are returning to work. Isn’t it amazing to hear that in the 21st century? How do people still support this? How come discrimination exists whereas it is illegal to penalize a pregnant employee?

What we are going to see next is reality and even though the situation for pregnant women is shocking, we will see that things may not change in a near future.

1. Alarming figures

Because they fear their bosses’ reaction, two thirds of women say they would wait until the very last minute before telling them they are pregnant.

Though they are discriminated against while they are pregnant, 2,000 women refuse to complain. One of the reasons is that they are afraid of losing their job.

The survey says that one third have been treated badly by their boss and workmates while they were pregnant or on maternity leave:

  • Half of them were refused a promotion;
  • One fifth were demoted;
  • More than a third had responsibility taken off them.

Some even say it is impossible to climb the career ladder after being pregnant!
And remember that women already have to face other kinds of discrimination at work (glass ceiling, harassment, lower wages, etc.)! It must stop! Consequently, it is high time society considered them differently.

How can these women achieve their career aspirations if they are blocked by such discriminatory working practices?
Especially when bosses encourage younger colleagues without children and continue penalizing them after the baby is born. Indeed, they are put on a “mummy track” which facilitates motherhood, such as flexible hours, but at the same time usually provides fewer opportunities for career advancement.

Consequently, a fifth leave their job because they lack working options.
Not easy to be a working mother, is it? Such statistics tend to show that some bosses would be ready to deny their female employees the right of being a mother. But what does the government do to stop these practices, clarify the situation and make it better for these women?

2. Disputable decisions from the government

First of all, we must know that it is illegal to penalize a woman because she is expecting. So, why do some employers who seem to be still living in the dark ages blame them when they are pregnant? Why do they make things harder for their employees instead of helping them? It is difficult to answer these questions, but they probably feel that they are going to lose money or waste time looking for a substitute and train them.

To prevent such practices from happening, the British government decided in 2015 to “share parental leave and pay" which will allow couples to choose how they share care for their child in the first year after birth.

But they also introduced tribunal fees amounting to £1,200 to take an employer to court and this measure should of course prevent pregnant women from accusing their bosses of pregnancy discrimination. When will they be confident to complain about their working conditions and their bosses’ attitude towards them? Unfortunately, it could take years and in the meantime they will have to suffer in silence.

Moreover such a way of thinking is quite old-fashioned because it does not take into consideration the fact that male parents can look after their children, too. It is no longer a woman's part exclusively. Indeed, male workers also have the right to take childcare leave.

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