Many pregnant women still face discrimination in Dutch labour market

Many pregnant women still face discrimination in Dutch labour market

A report published by the Netherlands Institute for Human Rights has revealed that, due to pregnancy or the birth of a child, 43 percent of women in the Netherlands have experienced discrimination, putting them at a disadvantage in their careers.

Pregnancy and work: This is a matter of concern

As part of the Pregnancy and work: This is a matter of concern study, 1.150 women working in the Netherlands who had had a child in the past four years were asked about their experiences with discrimination when at work or looking for a job. The results of the 2020 investigation are the same as in 2012 and 2016, showing that little has changed for (pregnant) women over the past eight years. 

Following their research, the institute has called upon the Dutch government, in particular the Ministry of Social Affairs and Employment, to “promote compliance with equal treatment legislation as soon as possible in order to combat pregnancy discrimination,” and improve the information available for employers and employees about pregnancy and work.  

Pregnant women and mothers at a disadvantage when looking for work

The report revealed that one in five women had been unsuccessful in a job application due to pregnancy or motherhood - one in 10 women stated these reasons had been explicitly stated as the reason for their failed application. Only 11 percent of job-seeking women who felt discriminated against took the steps to raise awareness about the issue or take action against those who had discriminated against her. 

On top of missing out on jobs, the research found that women in employment also missed out on promotions or salary increases as a result of their pregnancy. 26 percent stated that, once they become pregnant, they are not allowed to take part in training courses, struggle to organise maternity leave and their return to work, and are overlooked when it comes to new opportunities / promotions. 

Discrimination against (pregnant) working women

The effect of pregnancy and motherhood on a woman’s career therefore remains significant in the Netherlands - more than a quarter of women who were looking for work said their pregnancy or status as a mother had negatively impacted their professional life. One in eight mothers feels they are lagging behind in their careers compared to their colleagues. 

Adriana van Dooijeweert, chair of the Netherlands Institute for Human Rights, says the discrimination leads to women working below their level: "[they] think they receive less salary than they are entitled to, or have a worse relationship with their supervisor due to pregnancy." This can lead to significant financial issues for the woman in question and her family, Van Dooijeweert says. 

To read the full report, visit the Institute for Human Rights website

Victoria Séveno


Victoria Séveno

Victoria grew up in Amsterdam, before moving to the UK to study English and Related Literature at the University of York and completing her NCTJ course at the Press Association...

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