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EHRC gender pay gap investigations

The Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) has written to the Government informing it that in June it will be commencing the first of its gender pay gap investigations into employers who have failed to comply with their gender pay gap (GPG) reporting obligations. The announcement should not come as a surprise as the EHRC issued a warning prior to 4 April 2018 deadline that any companies which failed to comply with their reporting obligations could face enforcement action in the form of a fine or an investigation.
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EHRC gender pay gap investigations

Fathers and the Workplace

The Women and Equalities Committee has published a report highlighting what it sees as the difficulties that fathers face in balancing their careers with childcare responsibilities. The report makes a series of proposals which aim to put men and women on a more equal footing when it comes to maternity and paternity leave. The most headline grabbing recommendation is that fathers should receive one month's leave at 90% of their salary (capped for higher earners) when their wife or partner has a baby and a further two months of paternity leave at £141 a week, without any loss of rights for the mother.
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Fathers and the Workplace

Government’s response to Taylor Review

Seven months ago, we reported on the Taylor Review of modern working practices, with its focus on “good work” for all that is “fair and decent”. In short, the review recommended extra protection for the UK workforce, ranging from clarity over employment status to extra rights on zero-hours contracts. This month the government has published its eagerly anticipated response to Matthew Taylor’s 53 recommendations.

Read more here.

Government’s response to Taylor Review

Sex discrimination law review final report

2018 is a momentous year, in that it marks 100 years since British women were given the right to vote. Things have moved on a bit since 1918, and we can safely say that there have been many positive developments since then aimed at addressing the issue of gender inequality in the workplace.

Yet here we are, in this historic centenary year, reading daily accounts of high-profile cases of sex discrimination and harassment. Take, for example, the BBC “not doing equal pay” and the sexual harassment allegations arising from the notorious Presidents Club dinner. Inequality in the workplace remains a real issue, and against that backdrop one key question needs to be considered: are the UK’s sex discrimination laws still fit for purpose?

This was the question that the Fawcett Society (the UK’s leading charity campaigning for gender equality and women’s rights), together with a panel of legal and policy experts, was recently tasked with answering. Following a nine-month review, the Society has now made a number of recommendations on the following topics.

Read more here

Sex discrimination law review final report

Less than half of businesses prepared for GDPR

According to new research carried out by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sports, less than half of all UK businesses and charities are aware of the changes to UK data protection law under the EU's General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) which will come into force on 25 May 2018.
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Less than half of businesses prepared for GDPR

Timing and permission to amend an ET1

In the recent case of Galilee v Commissioner of Police for the Metropolis the EAT held that the doctrine of 'relation back', whereby amendments take effect from the date of the original document which it amended, does not apply in the tribunal.
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Timing and permission to amend an ET1

Dress Codes in the Workplace

Headlines on dress codes are becoming more frequent and certainly catch the eye with the BBC's "Can an employer demand that you go to work naked?" being no exception! The question raises a fair point – to what extent can employers dictate what its workforce wear to work?
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Dress Codes in the Workplace

Risk assessments for breastfeeding mothers

The European Court of Justice (CJEU) has held, in the recent case of Otero Ramos v Servicio Galego de Saude, that failure to conduct an appropriate risk assessment for a breastfeeding employee amounts to sex discrimination.

The employee in this case was an accident and emergency nurse who had made a request for an adjustment to her working pattern on account of her breastfeeding. Her concerns included the complex shift rotation system, exposure to ionising radiation, healthcare-associated infections and stress. She requested an adjusted shift pattern and preventative measures to be implemented. Her employer issued a report stating that her work did not pose any risk to her breastfeeding her child and rejected her request for an adjustment to her working conditions.

The employee filed a claim for sex discrimination against her employer, alleging that the risk assessment carried out by her employer did not comply with the requirements of EU law which provides measures to improve health and safety for pregnant and breastfeeding workers. The CJEU found that the employer had failed to perform an individual assessment of the employee’s circumstances, as required under the legislation, and rather it had conducted an assessment of the employee’s role as an accident and emergency nurse.

Accordingly, the CJEU held that failure to properly assess the risk posed by the work of a breastfeeding worker in accordance with the requirements of EU law must be regarded as less favourable treatment and constitutes direct sex discrimination.

Risk assessments for breastfeeding mothers

Publication of gender pay details

To date most companies have been slow to release details of their gender pay gap with only 176 companies publishing their data.

With some 8,800 yet to reveal their figures, Theresa May has called for more companies to report on their gender pay gap to address the inequality in the workplace. She said that, “the gender pay gap isn’t going to close on its own” and that “we all need to be taking sustained action to make sure we address this.” Nevertheless, the only Government Department to have so far published their figures is the Department for Education which has a gap of 5.9%.

So far a handful of City businesses have published details of their gender pay gap and the results are as anticipated with reported median gaps of between 24% and 35.7%.

The Prime Minister’s announcement comes in the wake of a report, published by the World Economic Forum, which showed that the UK has dropped from a ranking of 9th in the world to 15th in respect of its gender gap. This ranking comes after a study from the Chartered Management Institute which showed a 27% pay gap among the UK’s 3.3 million managers, where men outnumber women three to one.

While the gender pay gap reporting obligations are an important step in the right direction, it seems that much work is still needed to reduce the gender pay imbalance in the UK.

Publication of gender pay details

Sexual harassment in the workplace

The recent allegations against US film producer Harvey Weinstein have brought the issue of sexual harassment at work into the global spotlight with an overwhelming number of women across the globe sharing their experiences of inappropriate treatment at the hands of their employers. This has prompted discussion of the obstacles faced by women trying to develop their careers. It is becoming clear that in many sectors there is a culture in the workplace of ignoring or trivialising sexual harassment.

A recent BBC survey, commissioned in the wake of the Weinstein allegations, has found that half of the women interviewed had experienced sexual harassment at work or place of study. The harassment ranged from inappropriate comments to sexual assault with 30% of the women being targeted by a boss or senior manager.

What has emerged over the recent weeks is that simply having a sexual harassment policy in place is not enough to address such a prolific problem in the workplace. Policies will only be effective if they are “lived” and there is a culture that does not ignore the behaviour the policy is designed to prevent. Perhaps now is the time for a shift in emphasis from attempting to avoid a harassment claim, to preventing the harassment occurring in the first instance.

Sexual harassment in the workplace