On Tuesday the Fawcett Society issued its recommendations resulting from its Sex Discrimination Review. It remains to be seen whether the proposals are implemented. However, it did make some interesting recommendations in relation to women in the workplace. The report advocates:

Gender pay gap reporting:

  • the introduction of civil penalties for non-compliance; and
  • that the threshold for reporting should be gradually lowered, aiming to capture employers employing 50 or more employees (as opposed to the current threshold of 250).

Equal Pay:

  • reintroducing Equal Pay Questionnaires with Employment Tribunals (ETs) being permitted to draw adverse conclusions from an employers refusal to answer them;
  • that ETs should order full equal pay audits as standard (this power is currently rarely used); and
  • that for employers with more than 250 employees, mandatory equal pay audits every three years should be introduced.

Maternity, paternity and family friendly rights

  • extending protection from dismissal due to pregnancy and maternity discrimination for six months after a woman returns to work;
  • increasing the time limit for making a pregnancy or maternity claim from three months to six months;
  • the introduction of a right to reasonable time off and facilities for breastfeeding;
  • updating the law to ensure that employers have to carry out an individual risk assessment for pregnant women, women who have given birth in the last six months or are breastfeeding;
  • making Statutory Maternity Pay, Paternity Pay and Shared Parental Pay day one rights;
  • removing the requirement to have worked 26 weeks in the last 66 for women to receive Maternity Allowance;
  • increasing the rates of the statutory payments so that they are in line with the Real Living Wage for 36 hours per week; and
  • increasing paternity leave to six weeks at 90 per cent pay.

Workplace harassment

  • reintroducing section 40 Equality Act 2010 (EA) to ensure that third party perpetrators of sexual harassment are caught and held accountable (e.g. clients or customers).

The report also recommends that the EA be amended to provide protection against dual discrimination (i.e. discrimination based on a combination of protected characteristics), as well as making recommendations in relation to Brexit, violence against women and girls, promoting equality, access to justice and sex equality in Northern Ireland.

For further detail please click here to see the report.