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Fawcett Society publishes report on sex discrimination

View profile for Lucy Sorell

In early January the Fawcett Society published a report on sex discrimination laws in the UK. The re-port looked at the UK’s current sex discrimination laws and other laws protecting gender equality, ex-amined whether they were fit for purpose (particularly in light of Brexit) and made a number of rec-ommendations for improvements. Some of the key recommendations are as follows: 

Brexit – The report recommends limiting the use of ministerial powers conferred by the Bill so that they could not be used to make substantive amendments to employment law in the UK – as curtail-ment of family-friendly and part-time workers’ rights could significantly damage gender equality. 

Gender pay gap reporting – Civil penalties for non-compliance are recommended, given the current lack of proper enforcement. The reporting threshold should also be lowered to 50 employees. 

Family-friendly rights – protection from maternity discrimination should extend to cover the 6 months after a mother returns to work, and SMP, Paternity Pay and Shared Parental Pay should be day one rights. 

Workplace harassment – protection for employees against third-party harassment (e.g. from clients and customers of an employer) should be reintroduced. There should be a new requirement for em-ployers to take proactive steps to prevent discrimination and harassment in their workplaces. 

The release of the report could not be more timely, coinciding almost exactly with the Presidents Club report in the Financial Times, and against the backdrop of the flood of sexual harassment allegations in Westminster and Hollywood. In light of these events, stamping out workplace harassment is likely to be high on the agenda of employers across the private and public sectors - and this report may apply some additional pressure. We anticipate that a number of companies will be seeking to change their policies and practices to ensure that harassment is never tolerated and that their employees feel able to report incidents without fear of reprisal. Please feel free to get in touch if you would like to discuss making such changes.