I’m not buying what this article in the U.K. Daily Telegraph seems to be selling:
Employers may stop giving jobs to women because the cost of maternity leave and temp cover is set to double, legal experts have warned . . . .
New rules mean that female staff due to give birth from next month onwards must receive job perks such as paid holiday, childcare vouchers and gym membership for a full year rather than six months.
Companies will be liable for sex discrimination claims if they refuse to give the same benefits to women throughout 12 months of maternity leave.
In addition, separate rules being brought in by the European Union will give temps and agency staff – who are used in many offices for maternity cover – the same pay as full-time workers after just 12 weeks in a post.
An extra 4.5 million parents will soon have the right to demand flexible working patterns, such as different hours or part-time working, until their children turn 16.
Employment lawyers fear these improved rights for mothers could end up harming women’s career prospects, however.
They say the increased burden on companies, particularly small ones, may mean they simply choose not to employ women because of the high cost of keeping them on should they have children.
I would expect management-side employment lawyers in the U.K. or the U.S. or anywhere to make the same points. But the legislature in the United Kingdom has made a value judgment that these types of protections are needed in the British workplace. Probably because not too long ago a group of male executives thought women should be protected for their own good by being let go once they disclosed they were pregnant.
I hope that to the extent that British employers use the new laws as a pretext for not hiring women because they are or might become pregnant, that their feet are held to the fire and these last barriers to employment and career advancement are eliminated once and for all.
And who knows, if it works in the U.K., it might just work with U.S. laws as well.
Hat Tip: Dana Nguyen