This week Usdaw delegates will be participating with hundreds of other trade union activists in the online TUC Women’s Conference, 3-5 March, to promote equality and fight discrimination. This year Usdaw is raising concerns about the treatment of pregnant women and new mothers in redundancy situations.
Ruth Cross, Usdaw Equalities Officer says:
“As the Government support schemes wind down, the problems facing pregnant women and new mothers continue. Many women workers were incorrectly sent home on Statutory Sick Pay or unpaid leave when they should have been on maternity suspension. They have also been threatened with dismissal or redundancy if they refused to return to work because their employer was not protecting their health and safety.
“For low-paid women in unorganised workplaces the situation is especially dire. Lack of adequate redundancy protection remains a key issue and has still not been addressed by the Government, we fear their proposed Employment Bill will be much weaker than what is needed. We are calling for updated research into pregnancy discrimination, along with the Government strengthening protections and promoting awareness of existing rights.”
Usdaw is calling for the TUC Women’s Committee to campaign for:
- A repeat of the 2016 EHRC research into pregnancy discrimination to bring it up-to-date, including gathering data on the retention of new mothers in the workplace.
- Government action on redundancy protection to replicate the ‘German model’ which only allows pregnant women and new mothers (up to six months after their return to work) to be made redundant in very limited circumstances, such as if a business shuts down completely.
- Government to raise awareness of existing legal protections for pregnant workers.
Usdaw (Union of Shop, Distributive and Allied Workers) is the UK’s fifth biggest trade union with over 400,000 members. Membership has increased by more than one-third over the last couple of decades. Most Usdaw members work in the retail sector, but the union also has many members in transport, distribution, food manufacturing, chemicals and other trades.