Sexual discrimination and harassment has remained hot-topic news in January following a number of high profile incidents. One of the most notorious was the fall out of a male-only dinner event organised by the President’s Club during which waitresses were told to wear skimpy outfits and were allegedly sexually harassed and assaulted. The incident led to one of the organisers, a board member of the Department for Education, quitting his post. In other news, the BBC announced that a number of its highly-paid male employees, including Huw Edwards and Jeremy Vine, would take a pay cut in order to move towards equal pay between men and women at the corporation.
It seems, therefore, that there is still a great deal of work to be done on eradicating disadvantage to female employees, a view confirmed by the Fawcett Society’s report into the UK’s sex discrimination regime which was published this month. The Society had been carrying out a nine-month review into the topic and has made a number of recommendations to the government on how the legislative landscape could be changed to take these issues.
The review has suggested that the government should take steps to ensure that there will be no substantive changes to employment and equality laws post-Brexit and has recommended that equality pay gap reporting be extended to cover age, disability, ethnicity, sexuality and part-time status of workers. It also calls for time limits on discrimination and harassment claims in employment to be increased from the current three month period to six months. Finally, it recommends that rights to statutory maternity, paternity and shared parental pay be available to all employees, not just those who have completed 26 weeks’ service.