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Workplace attitudes to maternity are “archaic”

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Many women across the UK are still facing discrimination in the workplace when becoming pregnant.

That is according to a new study by law firm Slater & Gordon, which found that more than a quarter of mothers feel they are the target of unfair prejudice while pregnant or on their return to work after having a child.

Research also revealed that more than half of women questioned felt their boss’s attitude to them changed once they had announced their pregnancy and request for forthcoming maternity leave.

As a result, many women who have experienced such negativity directly have advised mothers-to-be to wait until the last possible moment to tell their manager that they are pregnant.

The consequences otherwise may be rather severe, as 60 per cent of women agree that they felt their pregnancy became problematic for the workplace – with more than a quarter saying they were under pressure to return to work sooner.

However, once returning to their place of employment, many mothers interviewed by Slater & Gordon said the problem did not end there.

On their return, a third of working mothers have found it impossible to climb the career ladder or compete with their male counterparts. More than a fifth feel they cannot go for a promotion and one in five do not feel as valued in their role as they were before becoming pregnant.

These statistics suggest that millions of women in shared offices in the UK are still facing “archaic attitudes” from the workplace – both pre and post pregnancy, according to Slater & Gordon.

Ros Bragg, director of Maternity Action, told the Guardian that the organisation received lots of calls from women as a result of workplace discrimination.

“Women are at their most vulnerable when pregnant or with a new baby and it’s very disappointing that employers take advantage and treat women badly. The government should be intervening instead of leaving it to the individual,” she added.