Being a mother at work

Mothers are in every workplace. The most recent figures show that 3 in 4 mothers with dependent age children are currently in the workforce.

Bad experiences at work will be all too familiar to many mothers. Eye rolls at mentions of childcare, passed over for promotions, unfair policies built into the system.

Research conducted by the TUC last year showed that half of mothers who requested flexible working were denied, whilst those that did get it routinely faced being discriminated against.

Two in five mothers feared discrimination if they asked for flexible working in a job interview.

Nobody should suffer at work for being a mum, and unions should step up and fight pregnancy and maternity discrimination at every turn.

If you have experienced (or witnessed) discrimination or harassment based on maternity or being a mother at work, you can make a complaint to your employer. Your employer should take your complaint very seriously and handle it correctly. It is good practice to make a note of what has happened, including dates, times and names of those involved or any witnesses.

This may not always be practical or possible to do. Contact your union rep or the Service Centre who will be able to assist you further. They will support you to talk with your employer to try and resolve what has happened. Should this not resolve the issue, or if this would not be possible, they may support you to raise a formal grievance.

Labour’s policy for the same rights for all workers from day one, including sick pay, holiday and parental leave, would be a godsend for the working mothers of Britain. The government must move to make this a reality – their current inaction is holding millions of women across the country back.

For workplaces, they should create environments that are as welcoming and inclusive for mothers as humanly possible.

The pandemic has showed us that flexible working is not only possible, but hugely beneficial. Employers should be proactive in offering this to all employees, not placing the onus on mothers to request it.

Equal pay is enshrined in law, but often isn’t the reality on the ground. New legislation compelling large companies to publish their gender pay gaps has shown how stark this problem can be.

Workplaces should ensure that women are paid the same money for the same work, and that mothers are offered the same opportunity to progress to the upper echelons of job roles.

As unions, we must continue to campaign for workplaces that are fully inclusive of mothers, and support those who face prejudice at work.

To read Community’s member advice, including on maternity leave, facing discrimination at work and bullying and harassment, click here.

If you are a member of Community and need help or advice, please contact us at or on 0800 389 6332.

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