27 January 2017

In August 2016, Parliament's Women and Equalities Committee called for UK women to have protections similar to those in Germany after what it called a shocking increase in workplace pregnancy discrimination over the past decade.

In its report, "Pregnancy and maternity discrimination", available at http://bit.ly/2jsdWUw, the Committee called on the Government to publish an ambitious, detailed plan within the next two years or risk a further rise in pregnant women and mothers being forced out of their work.

The Government, or rather Business Minister Margot James, has now responded and agreed that there should be zero tolerance of discrimination against pregnant women, or those who have just given birth.

"That's why today we are committing to making sure new and expectant mothers have sufficient protections from redundancy," the minister continued.

She promised that a consultation will be launched on strengthening the existing law against such discrimination, although she did not set a timetable for action saying only that something would appear "in due course".

One recommendation by the Committee, to extend from three months to six the time limit for discrimination cases to be taken to employment tribunals, has however already been rejected by the Government.

Instead, it promised to remind tribunals that they already have the power to be flexible and to extend the time limits, on a case-by-case basis, if they so wish.

The Committee also wanted new and expectant mothers who are casual, agency and zero-hours workers to be better protected, but that possibility has been left to Matthew Taylor's review of employment practices which is currently hearing evidence.