1 November 2016

As a result of women being forced out of their jobs by pregnancy and maternity discrimination, British businesses are losing nearly £280 million each year.

This is the headline finding of research published by the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) which shows that losses to employers were largely due to recruitment and training costs, and lost productivity.

However, the EHRC has emphasised, reputational risks, loss of valuable staff, the risk of employment tribunals and longer-term productivity impacts should also be taken into account.

The cost to the women themselves is also high of course and the research suggests that this could be as much as £113 million a year.

This includes those who felt so poorly treated they had to leave and those who were dismissed or (alone among their colleagues) made compulsorily redundant. The EHRC found that women were most likely to be financially affected when they felt forced to leave their job at an early stage of their pregnancy, due to loss of earnings.

Chairman David Isaac said: “Those who discriminate by forcing working mothers out are shooting themselves in the foot and incurring substantial costs. Today’s research underlines that equality of opportunity for working mothers makes good business sense.”

The latest findings follow other recent research, published by the Commission and the Government, showing that over three-quarters of pregnant women and new mothers (77%) — the equivalent of 390,000 women — experience negative and potentially discriminatory treatment at work each year.

The new report, “Estimating the financial costs of pregnancy and maternity-related discrimination and disadvantage”, can be found at www.equalityhumanrights.com.