A government commissioned report has revealed that more than three quarters of mothers have experienced discrimination or negativity while pregnant, on maternity leave, or when returning to work from maternity leave.

The research, which was carried out by the Department for Business, innovation and Skills (BIS) and the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC), found that pregnancy discrimination is on the rise, with 45% reporting that they had experienced such discrimination.

Out of 3,254 mothers surveyed, one in nine said that they felt forced to leave their job, including mothers who were dismissed, made compulsorily redundant or treated in a way that made them feel they had to leave their job.

While the majority of employers surveyed said that it is in their interest to support pregnant women and women on maternity leave, a quarter of employers said they think it is reasonable to ask women during a job interview whether they plan to get pregnant.

Following the findings, the EHRC recommends that the government considers lowering fees for employment tribunals and puts in place stronger measures to prevent employers asking prospective employees about their plans to have children.

Since the introduction of tribunal fees of up to £1,200 in 2013, the number of tribunal cases has fallen dramatically.

Victoria Phillips, head of employment rights at Thompsons Solicitors said: “These latest findings present extremely concerning levels of workplace discrimination against pregnant women and new mothers, and also serve to remind us that costly tribunal fees are allowing injustice in the workplace to go unchallenged.

“Employees are being priced out of justice and we urge the government to take action and abolish such excessive fees to ensure illegal discrimination is eliminated from the workplace.”