How to recognise pregnancy or maternity discrimination, and what to do when you experience it.
By Aceil Haddad, head of comms for Pregnant Then Screwed
“You’ve let things slip… Now you’re pregnant I suppose we’re not the priority… I expect you want to be part-time if/when you come back? You don’t need to go to that meeting.”
Do these sound familiar? At Pregnant Then Screwed we’ve heard these and many others time and time again. Some 77% of women report discriminatory behaviours whilst pregnant. While 54,000 women a year are sacked for being pregnant. Many women rationalise comments like the ones above as management concerns. In fact, they are subtle acts of pregnancy and maternity discrimination.
Overt and convert behaviour
Behaviours fall into two patterns of behaviour, overt and covert. Overt behaviours are easier to notice and call out – many women will feel empowered to call these out because they are so obvious. But it’s the covert behaviours which are really damaging and women need help calling out. What do we mean by this? It’s natural gaslighting territory. It really gets under skin and you do feel like you’re going mad because nothing seems to be good enough. You’ve suddenly become bad at your job because you’re pregnant. There’s mutterings under managers’ breath, humiliation tactics, slamming doors. Furthermore, work that is naturally yours is being taken from you, as well as you being excluded from meetings or events you’d have otherwise conducted.
What to do
So what should you do when you’re pregnant or coming back from maternity leave and start to notice these behaviours?
- Keep a diary – it’s so important to log comments or behaviours you notice. Should this need to be progressed, this will form the basis of your claim.
- Call our helpline – 0161 222 9879, we can talk you through your employment rights.
- Read up and start the process of a grievance – ACAS outline the roadmap well here – https://www.acas.org.uk/grievance-procedure-step-by-step .
- Call our legal helpline – 0161 222 9879, we will arrange for a call back from one of our solicitors at Gorvins.
- If you require support, there is also a mentoring programme you can apply to. One of our incredible volunteers will support you through to settlement or tribunal.
Check out Joeli’s debut book – Pregnant Then Screwed, the truth about the motherhood penalty and how to fix it. Pregnancy and Maternity discrimination can be difficult to challenge but this book is full of very useful advice.