NEARLY half of employers believe it is fair to ask female job candidates if they have young children, a study reveals.
Many think it is acceptable to question women about their plans to start a family, shows the poll by the Equality and Human Rights Commission.
Such antiquated attitudes are likely to be holding women back, said EHRC boss Rebecca Hilsenrath. She said: ‘When it comes to the rights of pregnant woman and new mothers in the workplace, we are still living in the Dark Ages.
‘We should all know very well it is against the law not to appoint a woman because she is pregnant or might become pregnant. Yet women routinely get asked questions around family planning in interviews.’
The poll of more than 1,100 employers showed three out of five thought women applying for a job should have to disclose whether they were pregnant.
Two out of five said women who have more than one child while in the same post can be a burden. Half said workers sometimes resented women who are pregnant or on maternity leave.
Mum-of-two Sarah, who was made redundant during maternity leave for her eldest, said: ‘You can be a mother with young children and your whole world can come tumbling down.’
TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady said women should never have to choose between a career and a family ‘but thousands are forced from their jobs every year’. ‘Employers get away with breaking the law on an industrial scale,’ she added.
Young Women’s Trust chief executive Dr Carole Easton said: ‘Many employers, given half a chance, would run roughshod over women’s rights.’