Today is International Women’s Day. In this blog, we take a look at some of the main issues currently affecting women at work.

Gender pay gap reporting

Private and voluntary sector employers with 250 employees or more will have to publish data showing the difference in average pay (hourly rates and bonus pay) between men and women in their workforce. A snapshot of the data must be taken on 5 April 2017 with the first gender pay gap reports published by 4 April 2018.

The information will be available publically – on both the employer’s and the government website – with the aim of promoting greater gender equality in our workplaces.

Our previous blog identified some tricky issues in gender pay gap reporting. Detailed information is also available on Workbox.

Dress codes

The issue of discriminatory dress codes has been in the press recently when a woman was sent home from work for refusing to wear high heels.

She set up an online petition calling for a change to the law to make it illegal to require women to wear high heels at work and calling current formal work dress codes “out-dated and sexist”. The petition led to a House of Commons report in January 2017, ‘High heels and workplace dress codes’ which was debated in the House of Commons earlier this week.

Parliament’s Petitions and Women and Equalities Committees called for the government to take action to improve the effectiveness of the Equality Act 2010, as well as to provide clearer guidelines on these issues so that the laws already in existence are properly functional and effective.

Workbox users can access more information about dress codes here.

New and expectant mothers

In August 2016, Parliament’s Women and Equalities Committee published a report calling for UK women to have protections similar to those in Germany after what it called a ‘shocking’ increase in workplace pregnancy and maternity discrimination. Our previous blog set out some of the Committee’s recommendations.

The government has since responded to the report. It accepted that workplace discrimination as a result of pregnancy or for taking maternity leave is ‘wholly unacceptable’ but also stated that “the legal framework in place to protect pregnant women and new mothers from discrimination is strong” and has therefore decided not to adopt the majority of the recommendations.

It has, however, committed to a review of pregnancy and redundancy legislation, and will consider proposals that new and expectant mothers can be made redundant only in specified circumstances, along the lines of existing German legislation.