The Equality and Human Rights Commission has spoken out about a YouGov poll, which found ‘depressing’ statistics which have revealed that most employers in the UK think that a woman should have to tell employers during recruitment if she is pregnant.
The EHRC has said that lots of UK businesses were running ‘decades behind the law’. A YouGov survey found that 1,106 chief decision makers in the UK found that a third of people working in the private sector thought that it was appropriate to ask women during the recruitment process if they had plans to have children in the future. This was compared with 59% of respondents who said that woman should have to tell potential employers if they are pregnant during a recruitment process, and 46% who said that asking a woman if she had small children was reasonable.
Equality commission finds overt discrimination is ‘shockingly common’
The chief executive of the EHRC, Rebecca Hilsenrath, said that she found the result of the survey ‘depressing’, while accusing a number of British companies of ‘living in the dark ages.’
She said: ‘We should all know very well that it is against the law not to appoint a woman because she is pregnant or might become pregnant. Yet we also know women routinely get asked questions around family planning in interviews,” she said. “It’s clear that many employers need more support to better understand the basics of discrimination law and the rights of pregnant women and new mothers.’
The survey also found that 44% of employers thought that women should work for at least a year at a company before deciding to have a child. The same amount of respondents also thought that women who fell pregnant more than once in the same job could be detrimental to the team they are working on.
The survey is consistent with the numerous examples of discrimination which have been reported on the website ‘Pregnant then Screwed.’ A 32-year-old woman who worked in the media industry was told during an interview that they really liked her, however because she had a small child, they thought she would probably want another one soon, and this meant they would be wary about the amount of money which they invested into her.
A 29-year-old woman who worked as a senior human resources executive was told while she was being interviewed that they needed someone who was committed to the job, and not one who had to leave the office at 6 for a nursery run.
The founder of Pregnant then Screwed, Joeli Brearly, said that overt discrimination during the recruitment was, unfortunately, very common, saying: ‘The perception that mothers fall behind, are less committed or ambitious is absurd. Women are very capable of using both their brains and their uterus simultaneously.’