While we celebrated this week – along with our sister GDST schools – the anniversary of 100 years of (some) British women winning the right to vote, a review of sex discrimination law in the UK published by the Fawcett Society is perhaps a useful reminder that there remains much to be done in terms of equality. The review (https://www.fawcettsociety.org.uk/sex-discrimination-law-review-final-report) focuses on the law as it relates to Brexit, women in the workplace, violence against women and girls, promoting equality, and access to justice. It recommends:
• Reintroducing employee protections against harassment from third parties.
• Introducing a statutory right to reasonable time off and facilities for breastfeeding.
• Making statutory maternity, paternity and shared parental pay ‘Day 1’ rights, and increasing their value so they are paid at the equivalent of Real Living Wage based on a 36-hour week.
• Extending paternity leave to six weeks, paid at 90% of earnings and available any time in the year after birth.
• Extending protection for maternity discrimination to last for six months after a period of maternity or parental leave.
• Introducing a Code of Practice for work place dress codes to cover dress code requirements placed on women that are unlikely to be applicable to men (for example high heels).
• Reintroduction of Equal Pay Questionnaires, and a focus on equal pay in Employment Tribunal actions, including requiring Employment Tribunals to order equal pay audits where any finding is made of unequal pay or discrimination.
• Introduction of equal pay audits to be published every three years by employers with more than 250 employees and made publically available.
The review also makes a number of recommendations in relation to Gender Pay Gap Reporting (GPGR). From April 2018, employers with over 250 employees must publish details of their gender pay gap. The Fawcett review recommends lowering the reporting threshold so that by 2020 the obligation falls on employers with more than 50 employees.
Whether the review recommendations will be implemented remains to be seen, but in themselves they are a helpful indication of the equality issues our daughters will potentially encounter in the workplace and which – if they are to be resolved – will require of them much of the same determined spirit as their suffragette predecessors.