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British Women Face Increasing Discrimination For Taking Maternity Leave

Working for the baby's futureWorking for the baby's future

While women across the pond might enjoy access to maternity leave, that doesn’t mean they’re not struggling with many of the same issues that American women are.

On Monday, British charity Citizens Advice released a report revealing that women in the U.K. are increasingly concerned with workplace discrimination as it relates to maternity leave.

The organization, which dispenses advice to British citizens free of charge, said that visits to its pregnancy discrimination advice pages have doubled in the past year. Moreover, the nonprofit saw a 58% increase in the number of women coming in for in-person consultation on the issue in the past two years.


“In some cases women are having their hours cut or even being moved onto zero hours contracts when they tell their employers they are pregnant. This can have a real impact on their income security as suddenly they don’t know what hours they will work or how they will be paid—the last thing they want when they are expecting a child,” said Citizens Advice CEO Gillian Guy in a statement about the report.

Citizens Advice grouped the issues faced by expecting mothers into four categories, which will sound familiar to American women. According to the charity, women returning back to work after maternity leave typically either (1) are made redundant (2) have their working hours reduced (3) have their roles changed or (4) lack health and safety protections that would allow them to continue working.

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Legally, employees in the U.K. can take up to 52 weeks of parental leave after the birth of a child—50 weeks of which can be taken by either parent (the first two weeks must be taken by the mother directly after giving birth).

The U.S. currently has no federal parental leave policy, and only 12% of American private sector workers currently have access to paid family leave through their employer, according to the Department of Labor.