The Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) has issued a clarion call to the hospitality industry to join a collation of leading British businesses dedicated to eradicating pregnancy and workplace discrimination, and reap the business benefits of so doing.
Working Forward was launched following landmark research by the EHRC last year that showed pregnancy and maternity discrimination affects around 390,000 women at work each year. The research highlighted challenges for the hospitality sector specifically. These include issues around health and safety, breastfeeding, contact on maternity leave and the attitudes and beliefs of employers regarding pregnancy.
Twice as many mothers working than average has bad experiences of breastfeeding at work, including having their requests to breastfeed or express at work denied. Employers were more likely than average to think pregnant women and returning mothers were less interested in career progression and promotion, and less likely than average to think that the right to paid time off to attend antenatal appointments was reasonable. In addition, employers were less likely to have contact with women on maternity leave aside from Keeping In Touch days. However, when they did make contact, their contact was more frequent than the average.
EHRC project lead Sue Coe commented: "The hospitality sector does some things very well - there are peaks and troughs with all sectors. The statistics on staying in contact with women on maternity leave show that when [hospitality firms] do it right, they do it very well indeed.
"The research demonstrated to us that employers want to get it right and that they need help and support to do so. That's what we are here for and why we have set up this business to business initiative to help employers learn from each other," she added.
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