Pregnant then Screwed runs a mentoring scheme for women who want to take legal action against their employers. Their goal is to ensure fair treatment for all women in the workplace. Their recent campaign was launched to provide more consideration for current and expectant mothers. Women often face discriminative and detrimental treatment from employers whilst pregnant. This treatment extends to Non Disclosure Agreements which are used by companies to silence the affected women, and to prevent them from taking any legal action. The campaign also seeks to increase the time limit for bringing pregnancy and maternity related discrimination cases. The current period stipulated by the government is three months and pregnant then screwed would see it extended to six.
Current discrimination practices
Pregnant then screwed’s website recants stories of women who have been forced out of their jobs because they got pregnant. Since the campaign began, it has come to light that several women have been fired, forced to resign or moved into lower positions. According to the Equality and Human Rights Commission, over 54,000 women are pushed out of jobs each year due to pregnancy or maternity leaves. Additionally, 7 out of 10 women have experienced some form of negative or discriminatory treatment at work.
NDAs are sometimes called gagging clauses because they are so binding that they prevent employees from pursuing any form of recourse. The result is that only 6 in 100 women who have experienced any forms of discrimination raise tribunal claims. The power of the NDAs to subdue women is further compounded by the short time limit within which claims can be raised.
The claims that do wiggle out of the restrictions of the NDAs and overcome the time limits to make it to the tribunal usually end in quick settlements. The women concerned usually prefer spending time with their children to wasting countless hours, entangled in legal affairs.
Women’s rights in the workplace
The right to not be dismissed on grounds of pregnancy and childbirth:
The law prohibits employers from dismissing employees because of pregnancy or childbirth. In situations where the employer realizes that the woman may not be able to perform her duties in her current employment, he is to offer her alternate suitable employment. In this case, the alternate suitable employment would have to meet the following criteria
- It must match the employee’s skill and experience level
- It must offer adequate compensation
- It must be equal to the employee’s current status.
The law also prohibits other discriminations like
- Writing unfavorable staff reports against the employee
- Treating pregnancy leaves as disciplinary actions.
- Changing or modifying contracts without consent.
- Actively trying to sabotage the employee.
The right to a maternity leave
Working mothers have a statutory right to certain amounts of time to be taken as maternity leaves. Whether or not she chooses, women are required to take two weeks off immediately after giving birth. Factory workers are required to take four weeks off. Additionally, women are entitled to 26 weeks of ordinary maternity leave, and 26 weeks of additional maternity leave. Some employers may allow for leave periods more favorable than the ones stated by the law.
While on leave, their contracts of employment are considered to be active despite their absence from work. However, women must inform their employers of their status and submit a request for leave 15 weeks before the baby is due. The employer is required to respond within 28 days of the request, confirming the start and end of the leave.
The right to return after birth
After the duration of the leave, mothers are also entitled to return to their work, at the same level they were before the leave. To foster this, it is often advisable for mothers to inform employers of their intentions to return to work after the leave period.
The right to maternity pay
Mothers must satisfy the following conditions in order to qualify for maternity pay
- Earn at least £111 every week
- Must have worked for employer for a minimum of 26 weeks
- Must have notified employer of pregnancy and leave
Satisfying these conditions qualifies the mother for 90% of her weekly income as maternity pay. The employer could also pay a standard of £139.58 instead of the 90%, depending on whichever is lower.
Pregnant then screwed’s campaign
- The campaign has two parts:
Extension of the time limit
Pregnant then screwed proposes that the three months time limit for filing a case in the tribunal meets women at their most vulnerable moments. The stress involved in litigation can be detrimental to the health of the baby if the woman is pregnant. For new mothers, fatigue and exhaustion will impede their ability to act. “This law forced me to make a decision between justice and the health of my baby”, said one mother. Another mother asserted that she would have been able to take the necessary steps if she had been in a better frame of mind. Pregnant then screwed posits that an extension of the time frame is necessary, and would benefit women greatly. They further suggest that it would not be difficult, as there is already a precedent six-month window for filing claims that relate to equal or redundant pay. They ask that the same grace be extended to mothers and pregnant women.
Regulation of Non Disclosure Agreements
Statements like “I felt like signing the NDA was my only option” and “I had to sign to get my redundancy pay” fuel Pregnant then Screwed’s campaign for more tightly regulated NDAs. They believe that the only way to stop employers from using NDAs to mask their ill actions is for the government to set up a regulatory body. All NDAs would be reported to this body, and its job would be to monitor, examine and investigate them. This would surely serve as a deterrent to their oppressive use.
Pregnant then screwed’s petitions
Subsequent to making headlines like “pregnant then screwed campaign to prevent pregnancy dismissal NDAs”, the petition for the time limit increment has seen over 56,000 signatures. Additionally the petition for a regulatory body has over 3,900 signatures. Recent increases in the number of signatures show that more and more people are aware of the current discriminating practices in the workplace.
Our Employment Law Solicitors can assist with all types of claims and where possible on a no win, no fee basis. Naturally, we pride ourselves on providing the best possible service to the highest standards, we offer employment law advice on all problems. Call us on 0800 756 6605 or020 3923 4777
Tom Street studied law at the University of Manchester. He undertook his legal practice course at the College of Law in Guildford. He then, subsequently underwent his legal training specialising in employment law and litigation, at a firm in Chancery Lane, London.
Fully qualified, he moved to a niche litigation practice in the City of London.
In 2005, Tom set up his own legal practice, Tom Street & Co Solicitors and as part of this, in accordance with his strongly held objective to provide everyone with an easy pathway and readily available access to justice he established the online portals Do I Have A Case? and Tribunal Claim. These websites are trading names of Tom Street & Co Solicitors.