Taking any kind of legal action would scupper all that. And in small industries in particular, word spreads fast.
An employment tribunal is a greater risk to your career prospects than a demotion or being sidelined after having a baby.
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The idea that many new mums would feel up to the challenge of taking an employer to a tribunal is about as likely as having a newborn that sleeps through the night and never cries.
Women have a tendency not to want to upset people, not to rock the boat – because for most women, work isn’t “just business”, it‘s a friendship network, colleagues are people we trust and would like to see outside of work.
It was messy, maddening and incredibly stressful, especially as I had no paperwork to back anything up, at a time when I felt financially vulnerable, knackered, and lacking in confidence after many months away from the office. This kind of experience is very common, and fighting it is harder than ever.
Had I gone back full-time I would have seen my baby, awake, for less than 23 hours a week. New government rules mean that mothers seeking to challenge maternity discrimination will have to pay £1,200 to bring their case to an employment tribunal.
That’s if I could even have found childcare to meet my working hours (which I couldn’t). Many women, like me, don’t even make it that far regardless of the costs.