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Citizens Advice publishes new analysis on maternity leave problems

22 August 2016

Citizens Advice today publishes new analysis looking at problems women have with maternity leave, including the most common issues they turn to local Citizens Advice for help with:

  • Redundancy after they tell their employer they are pregnant or while on maternity leave.
  • Health & safety assessments inadequate or not carried out.
  • Hours reduced against people's will.
  • Problems following return to work after maternity leave.

Over the past 2 years the charity has seen a 58% increase in the number face to face enquiries about maternity leave problems, rising from 2,099 to 3,307.

Chief Executive of Citizens Advice Gillian Guy said:

“Employers have a duty to look after employees who are pregnant or on maternity leave

“Pregnant women and mums who have just had a baby are protected by a whole range of rights at work. But in a growing number of cases employers aren’t playing by the rules and women are losing out.

“In some cases women are having their hours cut or even being moved onto zero hours contracts when they tell their employers they are pregnant. This can have a real impact on their income security as suddenly they don't know what hours they will work or how they will be paid - the last thing they want when they are expecting a child.

“Maternity protections are part of people’s employment rights but responsibility for enforcing these  is poorly resourced and  spread across a wide range of agencies, from HMRC to the Gangmasters and Labour Abuse Authority. This confusing landscape means some some bad bosses are getting away with treating their employees unfairly.

“There is an opportunity for the government to consider bringing together the expertise of all  current labour market enforcement functions into one  well resourced effective body to investigate bad practice. This will make it much easier for people to seek redress if they are being denied any of their employment rights.

“Anyone with concerns about pregnancy or maternity discrimination can get free, impartial advice from their their local Citizens Advice or go to www.citizensadvice.org.uk.”

Notes to editors

  1. The Citizens Advice service comprises a network of local Citizens Advice, all of which are independent charities, the Citizens Advice consumer service and national charity Citizens Advice. Together we help people resolve their money, legal and other problems by providing information and advice and by influencing policymakers. For more see the Citizens Advice website.
  2. The advice provided by the Citizens Advice service is free, independent, confidential and impartial, and available to everyone regardless of race, gender, disability, sexual orientation, religion, age or nationality.
  3. To get advice online or find your local Citizens Advice in England and Wales, visit citizensadvice.org.uk
  4. You can get consumer advice from the Citizens Advice consumer service on 03454 04 05 06 or 03454 04 05 05 for Welsh language speakers.
  5. Local Citizens Advice in England and Wales advised 2.5 million clients on 6.2 million problems in 2014/15. For full service statistics see our publication Advice trends.
  6. Citizens Advice service staff are supported by more than 21,000 trained volunteers, working at over 2,500 service outlets across England and Wales.