Hiring Fertile Women

Now, it\’s true that she won\’t be able to claim maternity pay as she\’s employed as a freelance, but, umm, this is a problem that a large number of businesses face:

No sooner had the newsreader Natasha Kaplinsky announced that she was pregnant than the applications to stand in for her started to arrive.

“It’s a very hot spot and we’ve already had plenty of inquiries but they are a bit previous,” Chris Shaw, senior controller of Five, says. “She’s not planning to stop newsreading for quite some time yet and as we approach that date we’ll obviously begin to think about finding someone to stand in for her.”

It is a mere six weeks since Kaplinsky joined Five on a £1 million salary, and one week since Mr Shaw enthused about the “Natasha effect” that had produced a 72 per cent rise in the programme’s ratings.

It is also only a week since Sir Alan Sugar made his controversial remarks about how women should state their intentions about having babies to recruiting employers.

It\’s one of the reasons for the gender pay gap. Given that a woman of fertile age might (note, might) do this, and that you\’re not actually allowed to ask them whether they intend to, means that employers will be reluctant, to an extent, to take the risk. This being so, the risk will be covered by offering a lower salary.

Now as to what to do about it all, well, that\’s where the problems start. For if we want to insist that women do indeed get statutory maternity pay and leave, and that their jobs must be held open for them to return if they wish (although with no insistence that they actually do so) then we also have to accept the corollary that this will influence the wages of those offered these options.

Note, not just those who use these options, but all of those who potentially might.

Or we could say that the inequality of pay is the greater problem, part of the solution to which would be a limiting of those options surrounding maternity leave and pay.

But it is one or the other, not both.

5 thoughts on “Hiring Fertile Women”

  1. Er, sorry, I thought you had decided that the gender pay gap was insignificant, now?

    Also, you need to add “email me comment followups” functionality. All the cool kids are doing it…

    Tim adds: Not sure I’ve said it was insignificant: rather that the part of it caused by direct (or “taste”) discrimination is.

  2. If the figures are right, she was 6 weeks pregnant when she started, and presumably therefore working on the old horizontal bop with intent while negotiating her contract.

    Perhaps employment contracts should become contracts uberrimae fidei, like insurance contracts? 😀

    And might her employer in all equity might be allowed a “cooling off period”? Sadly not.

  3. The maternity legislation effectively turned young women into a severe potential liability for their employers. I’m not against them getting their paid leave, but that is coming from the employer who has no contractual guarrantee she will return to work at the specified time. The costs and penalties to employers are too high, and I don’t blame them if they fight shy of offering jobs to women of that age. The so-called anti-discrimination legislation is making discrimination more, not less, likely. It is also making employers more cagey and tight-lipped about recruitment decisions. I’d like to know what the recruitment agencies think about this, because they are in the best position to assess the effect.

  4. BlacquesJacquesShellacques

    I’d like to know when potential fertile employees will become legally forbidden to volunteer their pregnancy plans. Am I correct that right now the only legal rule is that an employer may not ask?

    A wise applicant would volunteer that she had no intention of becoming fertile, was on the pill, used condoms, IUDs, had been sterilized, was unfamiliar even with the word ‘penis’ and provide notarized documents to that effect. She is probably already forbidden from contracting out of her ‘statutory rights’ so cannot have an emplyment contract that gives her a higher salary in exchange for the axe if she gets infected by sperm.

    I know that lefties read this site so I predict they’ll all go home and think, then agitate to make merely volunteering the information felonious. Oh wait, women can do no wrong, the felony will be the employers’ for listening to the volunteered information.

  5. Perhaps this is the way employers may go, hiring young women on a freelance basis, then if they get pregnant they leave to have a baby, the firm hires another freelance and ceases to pay the pregnant one. Becoming an employee should be a two way commitment.

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