A CAMPAIGN to end pregnancy and maternity discrimination at work has been launched by a firm of solicitors.
Martin Searle Solicitors - which has offices in Brighton, Eastbourne, Gatwick and Croydon - is highlighting the issue as a major concern.
In 2005 the Equal Opportunities Commission carried out research which showed that more than 30,000 women had been sacked, made redundant or received unfair treatment at work due to pregnancy and maternity discrimination.
In 2015 the Equality and Human Rights Commission undertook further research revealing that the number of women discriminated against had nearly doubled.
Martin Searle Solicitors says the recent response by the Government has been lacklustre.
Fiona Martin, director and head of employment law, said: “Since we started our law firm in 2004 we have campaigned to stamp out pregnancy and maternity discrimination in the workplace.
“However we have seen this type of discrimination drastically increase and know that these figures are just the tip of the iceberg.
“International Women’s Day on March 8 has a higher profile than ever but women seem to be facing more injustice and intolerance rather than gaining greater rights.
“The fact that pregnancy and maternity discrimination is now the most common form of sex discrimination strikes at the heart of women’s economic independence and effects women of all classes and their families.
“It is important that we continue to educate and support employers while advising employees of their rights in order to shift cultural attitudes in the workplace.
“It is not surprising that the uptake for men taking shared parental leave has been so low.
“Why would men who aspire to gain promotion risk being unfairly treated in the way they have seen their female counterparts discriminated against?”
Throughout March the employment law team will provide free advice on pregnancy and maternity rights and responsibilities, shared parental leave, maternity leave and return to work issues, for both employers and employees.
This includes a free telephone advice service for employers and employees concerned about the workplace rights of pregnant women and women on maternity leave.
It is providing training to community works for all charities and not-for-profit organisations in Brighton and Hove on March 29 on managing family friendly and flexible working rights as equality in the workplace not only ensures fairness but underpins good employment relations.