Commenting on the passing of motion 9 at the National Education Union’s Annual Conference, which is being held virtually, Dr Mary Bousted, Joint General Secretary of the National Education Union, said:

“The majority of education workers are women, but government data shows that men are quicker to progress in terms of their career and salary. Sexism and sexist biases including pregnancy and maternity discrimination mean that women in the education sector are losing out in status and pay. 

“This situation has worsened for all women in the education sector with the fragmentation of the education system. Whereas women and their line managers and employers once had access to clear, fair maternity policies, academisation has excluded many women from the workplace benefits negotiated by their trade unions.

“Discrimination against women who are pregnant and on or returning from maternity leave was increasing in the education sector, but it has been relentless throughout the pandemic. Risk assessments have not included the risks to pregnant women and their unborn babies, women have been punished for taking time off related to their pregnancy, employers have tried to force women to start their maternity leave early, women returning from maternity leave have been denied flexible working, and breast-feeding women have been subjected to the most degrading treatment.

“These insidious trends need to change, to ensure women’s needs are properly met in the provision of services at work and to make work safe and discrimination-free for women who are pregnant on maternity leave or returning to work after having given birth.”