One in six workers in the UK who were made redundant last year believes they were unfairly selected for being a parent, according to research last week by an employment law firm.
The poll of 1,000 people who had been made redundant since March 2020 also found a further 10% believe they were targeted for being pregnant - or because their bosses thought they were likely to start a family.
Although making a decision to dismiss someone based on being pregnant, age, race or sex is considered discrimination under the 2010 Equality Act, a third of those polled said bosses openly confirmed their status as a parent, or another element of their identity, was the reason they were being let go.
The research, carried out by employment law specialists Slater and Gordon, found that 74% of redundant workers were concerned about the legality of their, or their colleagues’ dismissal, but felt unable to challenge the decision.
Bosses assume home-schooling affects work
Since March, parents have had to deal with home-schooling their children and 51% said they were still meeting work targets at work.
But almost a quarter (23%) said that bosses who knew they had children at home complained about their performance. One in five (19%) were told that being a parent risked their job security, while 13% were placed on performance review.
Ruby Dinsmore, employment lawyer at Slater and Gordon, said: “Employers often make the assumption that parents with childcare responsibilities cannot dedicate themselves fully to their employment.
“As women normally take responsibility for childcare, these assumptions and the harassment woman encounter as a result, can amount to discrimination.”
Many of those polled felt their bosses made it clear that certain groups would be targeted for redundancy, with 43% saying mothers and women of child-bearing age were dismissed at a higher rate than anyone else.
Parents said they felt singled out and treated differently for having children even before redundancies took place.
Ms Dinsmore added: “Everyone should feel they have space for both a personal and professional life. No one should feel as if their workplace is giving them an ultimatum to choose between their job and family.”
What to do if you think you're at risk
- Read up on Which? what you need to be aware of
- If you're part of a union, you can also talk to your union represetative about your concerns.
- It's important to find out more about your rights if you’re being made redundant, you can get free and impartial advice from Acas (the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service) or contact Citizens Advice.
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