Many UK bosses admit that they would not employ a female job candidate if they knew she would fall pregnant within six months, new research reveals.
A study by Employment Law Advisory Services (Elas) found that more than three-quarters (76 per cent) of managers said they would not hire a woman if they knew she was planning a pregnancy.
Meanwhile, slightly more than half (52 per cent) explained that before hiring a potential employee, they assess the risk of her deciding to start a family, considering factors such as age and recent marriage.
And only five per cent of respondents said that they would hire someone who was already pregnant.
Elas said that the findings of the survey suggest that discrimination is still rampant, despite employment laws against it.
According to ClickAJob chief executive Yngve Traberg, bosses who turn their back on pregnancy possibilities are creating more problems than they solve.
"Nobody seems to remember there is a chronic shortage of skilled talent at the moment," he says. "Against which the mind-set that pregnant women are unemployable makes no sense whatever."
"The whole working pregnancy issue is more like an opportunity in reverse," he continues. "With our laptops and Blackberries and broadband connections, do employers conveniently forget such options as remote working or job share?"
"If you create a proper plan and effectively deal with pregnancy by being flexible, there is every reason to believe this can help reduce a skills shortage".
But, Mr Traberg points out, Mums need to come to the party too. Faced with a pregnancy or planning to become pregnant, it is a good idea to consider what self-improvement can be achieved during maternity leave.
"Though a baby is pretty much a full-time caring job," he says, "even small leisure gaps are useful for planning how to keep up to date and return to the job market."