Many employers in the UK are not prepared to hire female job candidates if they know they intend to start a family, according to new research.

Figures produced by the Employment Law Advisory Services (ELAS) reveal that 76 per cent of bosses admitted that they would not take on a new recruit if they were aware they hoped to fall pregnant within six months of taking on the role.

Additionally, it was discovered that over half of the managers questioned assess the chances of a member of staff becoming pregnant prior to employing them.

"It is a very dangerous area and you simply cannot ask the question about plans for a family in an interview. For many bosses it is down to the bottom line – a pregnant member of staff will cost money. However, a visit to a tribunal can be even more costly," warned Peter Mooney, head of consultancy at ELAS.

Research published earlier this month by the Fawcett Society suggested that as many as 30,000 women lose their jobs each year in the UK as a result of being pregnant.