Saturday 24 June 2017

Third of pregnant women 'unfairly treated' at work

Eilish O'Regan Health Correspondent

NEARLY a third of women who had a job while pregnant say they have suffered unfair treatment, new research reveals.

It revealed how 5pc of women employees who were pregnant said they were dismissed, made redundant, or treated so badly they had to give up work.

The findings emerged in the study by the Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI) which quizzed 2,300 mothers across the state.

They were asked about a range of areas, including the attitude of their employers, maternity leave and how they were treated on returning to their job.

Dr Helen Russell, one of the study's authors, noted that a significant minority of pregnant women faced unfavourable treatment at the hands of employers. Overall, it confirmed that one-in-three pregnancies could be termed "crisis" for various reasons.

Crisis pregnancy refers to either an unplanned pregnancy or a planned pregnancy that has become a serious problem to the woman because of a range of concerns. These can include desertion by the father, lack of support from parents, or financial difficulties.

The joint Health Service Executive (HSE) Crisis Pregnancy Agency and Equality Authority research, prepared by the ESRI, is the first nationally representative survey of women's experiences at work during and after pregnancy.

Key findings also show:

•50pc of women facing a crisis pregnancy said financial concerns linked with the recession contributed to their problems.

•27pc said workplace factors also added to their difficulties, including concerns about the attitude of their bosses and co-workers.

•There was a strong link between experiences of unfair treatment at work and crisis pregnancy.

The survey also found that women who earned more, were better educated and had an employed partner were more likely to take longer maternity leave and receive top-up payments from employers.

Dr Stephanie O'Keeffe, acting director of the HSE Crisis Pregnancy Programme, said that in order to successfully fulfil government policy to reduce crisis pregnancy it was necessary to look at broader areas such as employment, workplace culture and financial stability.

Irish Independent

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