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Maternity Action calls for new legislation to protect young mothers' jobs

CAMPAIGNERS have renewed calls for new legislation to protect young mothers from redundancy. 

Expectant and new mothers have faced an increased risk of hardship, with existing discrimination exacerbated by the crisis, Maternity Action says. 

Figures by the TUC show that a quarter of pregnant women feel they have been treated unfairly at work since the crisis began and singled out for furlough and redundancy. 

The targeting of new mothers prompted Maternity Action and 10 other organisations to call for new legislation to replace the “wholly ineffective protections” for pregnant women.

But despite promises from ministers to support the Pregnancy & Maternity (Redundancy Protection) Bill, which completed its first reading in Parliament in July, campaigners are concerned that it would not come into effect till 2023. 

By this time many new mothers are likely to have already fallen victim to unfair dismissals, the campaigners warned. 

The private member’s Bill was introduced by former cabinet minister Maria Miller MP. 

Calling on ministers to take on the Bill themselves and expedite it through the Commons, a Maternity Action spokeswoman said: “Maria Miller’s Bill provides ministers with a genuinely ‘oven ready’ means of tackling a problem that is all too evident — and demands action now, not in 2023.”

The TUC and Law Centres Network are among the latest groups to back the campaign.

TUC women’s equality officer Sian Elliott told the Morning Star: “Since the Covid-19 crisis began, working parents, particularly new mums, have been at increased risk of redundancy and hardship.

“The government must deliver on its promise to strengthen protections for new and expectant mums or risk decades of gender equality progress.”

Law Centres Network head of policy & profile Nimrod Ben-Cnaan said: “If government wants a jobs-led recovery from the pandemic, it should better protect expectant and new mothers from redundancy.

“It has already backed the principle; now it’s time to throw its weight behind greater protection from pregnancy discrimination as proposed in the private member’s Bill.

“Eliminating discrimination is government’s legal duty, and law centres that stand up for workers’ rights and equality are therefore backing the joint call on it to act.”

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