Attorney General: Employers are violating the law on maternity rights

LONDON (Parliament Politics Magazine) – The Attorney General has called for a shift in the attitude surrounding maternity rights, claiming that too many companies are breaking the law.

Suella Braverman, the first cabinet minister ever to take maternity leave last year, said that the employers, unfortunately, were breaking the law, and they must alter this attitude. They  must ensure that more firms provide support to female employees.

She told Sky’s political editor Beth Rigby it was quite strange to phone the PM and inform him that she was pregnant and wanted to take maternity leave in an exclusive interview to commemorate Mothering Sunday.

Mrs Braverman expressed her apprehension about making the call, but the PM responded by saying it was wonderful news and that she should “take whatever time(she) needs,” adding, “we’ll sort it out.”

However, a bill had to be pushed through Parliament in order for the Attorney General to take up the PM’s offer of paid maternity leave.

She would have had to resign from the government in case the ‘Ministerial and other Maternity Allowances Act’ had not been signed into law in March of last year.

‘I would have had to quit if this hadn’t happened at cabinet level before.’

She told Sky News that she had begun working with the civil service and her Attorney General’s office personnel to begin planning for what would be required. They soon realised that this had never happened at cabinet level before.

And because of that, there was no provision, and if she wanted to deliver the baby and spend some time with her, she would have had to resign.

They were all shocked, she added, when they found out, especially when the PM found out. And it was because of this that a new act of Parliament was passed to correct the problem.

Following being looked over for a promotion after maternity leave, ‘I was crying all the time.’

Other moms and activists, on the other hand, claim that there are several such anomalies and agree with the Attorney General that maternity leave regulations need to be changed to prevent discrimination.

Eight years ago, Jodie Sims gave birth to her first child. The person covering her role was promoted weeks before she returned from maternity leave, without the new position being given to Jodie first.

She told Sky News that she felt alone but lacked the drive – and the funds – to face a potentially lengthy legal battle. She eventually resigned as a result.

During the pandemic, a quarter of pregnant women faced harassment.

According to government statistics, over 50,000 women a year feel compelled to leave their employment while pregnant, and one in every 20 women is laid off.

During the pandemic, a quarter of women who were pregnant or new moms faced discrimination, including being picked out for redundancy or furlough, according to the TUC.

Current regulations provide some protection from redundancy for pregnant women and women on maternity leave. As soon as her employment is threatened with redundancy, a woman on maternity leave is entitled to be given a “suitable” vacancy if one is available, according to Regulation 10 of the Maternity and Paternity Leave Regulations 1999.

The goal is to give women on maternity leave priority over other workers facing layoffs. However, charities claim that some companies break the law because they know that challenging their actions involves a full employment tribunal, which few women take because they have either just given birth or have been out of work for up to a year.

Kourtney Spak

Kourtney Spak is an american journalist and political commentator. Her journalism career focuses on American domestic policy and also foreign affairs. She also writes on environment, climate change and economy.