Joeli Brearley, founder of Pregnant Then Screwed, tells us how she’s tackling maternity discrimination and what we can all do to change things for the better for working mums
When I was four months pregnant I was sacked by my employer. I found myself pregnant and unemployed with a mortgage to pay. I was terrified, exasperated and heartbroken.
The law forced me to make a decision between justice and the health of my baby.
I decided to take my employer to Tribunal; it was my only option. I also wanted to ensure this never happened again.
At the same time, I attended a routine hospital appointment and discovered I was having a high-risk pregnancy. My baby could be born prematurely resulting in potentially life-threatening problems. Stress could trigger early labour.
Due to the three month time limit to take a case to Tribunal I couldn’t wait until I had given birth before I started legal proceedings. This law forced me to make a decision between justice and the health of my baby.
If you want to help more working mums access justice, please sign our petition and follow our campaign #Givemesix so we can make the Government listen.
In the UK, 54,000 women a year lose their jobs for getting pregnant, and three out of four working mums endure discriminatory treatment in the workplace.
I know first-hand how common this is; two women from my NCT group have also been victims of discrimination.
Pregnancy and maternity discrimination is illegal, yet less than 1% of victims pursue a Tribunal claim.
At Pregnant Then Screwed we conducted a survey to understand why so few women access justice and 30% told us that the time limit had prevented them from doing so.
To address this, we launched the #GiveMeSix campaign. Please sign our petition to help get the time limit extended to enable more women to get justice.
NCT’s Campaigns team is also working hard to fight maternity discrimination and we continue to lobby and inform Government.
Last year, Senior Policy Adviser, Elizabeth Duff spoke to a committee of MPs about the employment issues affecting pregnant women and new mothers.
Pregnant Then Screwed protects, supports and promotes the rights of mothers who suffer the effects of systemic, cultural, and institutional discrimination through various schemes and activities. These include a website where women can post their stories of discrimination anonymously, lobbying the Government for legislative change, and a mentor scheme that supports women who are considering legal action against their employer.
If you have been a victim of pregnancy or maternity discrimination, you can also call Pregnant Then Screwed’s free legal advice line on 0161 930 5300.