Employee attitudes to discrimination against pregnant women and women with young children during the recruitment process: survey results

A survey into employee experiences regarding workplace discrimination has revealed deeply concerning information about how women are treated by employers. 

Many women workers confirmed that they'd been asked at interview to disclose information that the Equalities Act 2010 clearly states employers must not ask for. A fifth (22%) of mothers have been asked how they would manage childcare, were they to get the job - significant, given that more than three-quarters (77%) of women have decided against applying for a job because it would not have fitted in with childcare responsibilities.


See the full survey results below


Have you ever applied for a job while knowingly pregnant?

Answer options Response percent
Yes 18%
No 82%
Don't know 0%


Have you ever decided against applying for a job purely or mostly because you were pregnant at the time?

Answer options Response percent
Yes
45%
No 54%
Don't know 1%


Have you ever decided against applying for a job purely or mostly because it would not have fitted in with your childcare responsibilities?

Answer options Response percent
Yes
77%
No 22%


Have you ever decided against applying for a job purely or mostly because it was not advertised as being flexible (eg, no positive indication that the employer was willing to consider non-standard employment hours or working from home)?

Answer options Response percent
Yes
55%
No 43%
Don't know2%

In the course of applying for a job (initial application, interviews or final offer) have you ever felt that revealing information about your personal circumstances (intention to conceive, actual pregnancy, existing children and childcare arrangements or other caring responsibilities) would make it less likely that you’d be offered the job?

Answer options Response percent
Yes
64%
No 28%
Don't know4%

Have you ever changed your plans to start or expand your family, because of a job opportunity?

Answer options Response percent
Yes
18%
No 78%
Don't know2%


Thinking about job interviews you've experienced, has a potential employer ever asked you:

Answer options Yes No Don't Know
Whether you have children
34% 54% 8%

Whether you plan to have children

18% 77% 5%
Whether you are pregnant
3% 95% 2%
Whether you plan to start a family17%78%4%
To state your marital status or sexuality22%73%5%
To state your plans for childcare were you get the job22%75%3%
Whether or not you have caring responsibilities (elderly parents; children with special needs)
10%86%4%


If 'yes' to any of these: what was your response to the question? (if it's happened more than once, please think about the most recent occurrence.)

Answer Options
Response percent 
I told the truth
84%
I lied 9%
I pointed out at the time that these questions were against the law
4%
I didn't say anything about legality at the time, but I followed it up with a complaint
2%
None of the things listed in Question 2 have happened to me
2%
Other
5%


Lord Sugar once famously claimed that laws banning bosses from asking women about children and childcare plans during job interviews are counterproductive, and that women should be 'forthcoming'. Which of the following comes closest to your views about this?

Answer options Don't know
The law should be changed so that employers can ask about pregnancy, children and childcare plans at interview stage
2%

I do not think the law should be changed, but I think women should be forthcoming with this information of their own accord

18%
No, the law is there for a good reason and nobody should feel they have to discuss these things during a recruitment process 76%
Don't know
4%


In the course of your employment history, have you ever heard someone responsible for recruitment (an employer, a senior member of staff, someone working for the HR team) expressing any of the following views? Please tick all that apply
Answer options Response percent
That they would never hire a woman of child-bearing age 23%
That given the choice between an equally capable male candidate, they'd always choose the male
21%
That employing women is an extra hassle
31%
Net: At least one of these views 47%
No, I've never heard those views 50%
Don't know 3%


To what extent do you agree with the following statements

Answer options Net: Agree Net: Disagree Strongly agree Tend to agree Tend to disagree Strongly disagree Don't know/skipped
Small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) are more likely to discriminate against pregnant women than larger businesses
69% 15% 17% 52% 13% 2% 16%
Female employers are just as likely to discriminate against pregnant women as male employers Strongly agree
79% 13% 28% 51% 11% 2% 8%
Businesses without an HR department are more likely to discriminate against pregnant women than those who have one
63% 18% 19% 43% 15% 2% 20%
Dealing with pregnancy and maternity leave is a nightmare for employers
51% 38% 11% 39% 31% 7% 11%
UK equality law has been effective at eradicating discrimination against pregnant women
21% 65% 2% 19% 41% 24% 14%
There's a culture of discrimination against pregnant women in work
58% 28% 16% 42% 25% 3% 13%


Please read the below and then tick the most appropriate answer.

Answer options I am aware of this and an employer has broken this law with me I am aware of this but no employer has ever broken this law with me
I am aware of this and am not sure if an employer has broken this law with me
I am not aware of this law/ rule
The Equality Act 2010 states that employers must not refuse to employ you because, when you apply for a job, you are pregnant, on maternity leave or you have (or have had) an illness related to your pregnancy
6% 72% 7% 15%

If you are pregnant when you apply for a job, you do not have to tell your prospective employer

5% 70% 4% 21%
By law, if you do not tell a potential employer that you are pregnant and the employer gives you the job, they must not dismiss you when you tell them about your pregnancy
4% 67% 4% 25%

Survey of 1062 female Mumsnet users with experience of working in the UK or looking for work in the UK. Survey ran 22 March - 4 April 2016. The data has not been weighted. 


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Last updated: 5 months ago