Around 54,000 new mothers are forced out of work every year, a report has revealed.
More than one in 10 women said they were dismissed, made redundant or treated so badly they had no option but to quit, a poll found.
While most firms claimed to back mums and pregnant staff, half of new mothers wanting flexible hours said they were sidelined.
And one in five experienced harassment or negative comments from their colleagues or bosses when pregnant or returning from maternity leave, the survey found.
The report says the vast majority of employers - 84% - of employers believe it is important to support pregnant workers and those on maternity leave, while 80% said new mums were just as committed as other staff.
But the survey of 3,200 women also found 9% said they were treated worse by their employer on their return to work than they were before pregnancy and more than one in 20 (7%) said they were put under pressure to hand in their notice.
And half of mums who requested to work flexible hours said they sidelined by their employers and given fewer opportunities for promotion.
Caroline Waters, deputy chair of the Equality and Human Rights Commission, said: “This research reveals the worrying levels of discrimination and disadvantage at work that women still face today. Not only is discrimination unlawful, but it is also bad for business.
“That’s why we’re launching a major initiative to bring this issue into the public eye, improve awareness of the law and work with business and other groups to find workable solutions.”
TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady added: “This shocking report shows that many employers are in denial about the scale of pregnancy discrimination in their workplaces.
“Becoming pregnant should be one of the happiest times in a woman’s life, not a period of anxiety and stress.
“These findings must not be swept under the carpet. The current culture of bullying, harassment and ill-treatment that many female workers experience must be consigned to the past.
“This report should also act as a wake-up call to ministers. If they want more employers to comply with the law they shouldn’t be charging women up to £1,200 to pursue a pregnancy discrimination claim.”
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