Incremental Group hosted the Pregnancy and Maternity working group meeting, led by Jamie Hepburn MSP, Minister for Business, Fair Work and Skills. The Group is made up of Scottish Government officials and several industry leaders. The group’s overall aim will be to help reduce the number of women who have negative and discriminatory experiences during pregnancy and maternity by improving employment practices and sharing existing good practice and communication by:

  1. Developing further governance
  2. Reviewing and embedding existing EHRC and ACAS guidelines
  3. Improving access to advice for employers
  4. Public authorities’/ public bodies’ compliance
  5. Health and Safety considerations
  6. Improving advice through NHS channels to pregnant women and new mothers
  7. Monitoring and evaluation

Recent research published in July 2015 by the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) and Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) examined the prevalence and nature of pregnancy discrimination and disadvantage in the workplace. This research revealed that 84 per cent of employees believe that supporting pregnant workers and those on maternity leave is in the interests of their organisations. Despite this, however, 77 per cent of the women interviewed said they had a negative or possibly discriminatory experience during pregnancy, maternity leave and/or upon return from maternity leave.

Following the publication of this research, the Scottish Government committed to working with the EHRC on pregnancy and maternity discrimination as part of wider measures to deliver a more inclusive workforce.  At the start of 2016, the then Cabinet Secretary for Fair Work, Skills and Training announced a series of measures which included the establishment of a working group to help tackle the issues highlighted by the research.  The emphasis on improving the position of women in the economy is an important aspect of the Scottish Government’s focus on inclusive economic growth.  With the gender pay gap addressing remuneration of women at all stages in their career, in tackling pregnancy and maternity discrimination, we can effect change with benefits which will persist throughout a woman’s career.

Linda McAulay, People Director, Incremental Group, said, “I was delighted to be invited to participate in this working group bringing the voice of the growing employer to this forum, sharing best practice and discussing opportunities to further enhance the experience of employees during the pregnancy and maternity period in their lives.  The sense of action and focus with both business and government coming together to find a solution to this ongoing problem is significant.”