The survey, which involved 1,106 senior decision makers in businesses, asked questions regarding what the employers believed to be reasonable as part of the recruitment process. It appears that there is uncertainty amongst some employers, with the statistics showing that 59% of those asked believe that a woman should have to disclose whether she is pregnant during the recruitment process.
Similarly the survey revealed employers have some concerns with regards to women who have recently had children, with 44% of employers stating that they believe women should work for an organisation for at least a year before they decide to have children. It was also noted by the Commission that many employers expressed concerns regarding the financial burden which might be put on the workplace by pregnancy.
The legal position is that a woman applying for a job does not have to tell a prospective employer that she is pregnant during the recruitment process.
If a pregnant woman who is applying for a job volunteers information about her pregnancy or maternity or is obviously pregnant and is not offered the job for example because she is unable to start until after her maternity leave despite having all the necessary skills, experience and qualifications, the employer's rejection is likely to amount to pregnancy and maternity discrimination.
There is no requirement for a woman to work for an employer for any amount of time before having a baby or getting pregnant. She would be entitled to certain statutory rights as a minimum including up to 52 weeks' maternity leave regardless of length of service.
Employers should consider reviewing their policies, procedures and practices in connection to pregnancy, maternity and recruitment to ensure that they are meeting the legal requirements and providing the necessary support to employees who are pregnant or new parents.
Employers might also want to think about providing training for employees where there appears to be uncertainty in the workforce in relation to the legal rights and obligations for employees and employers regarding pregnancy and maternity.