Am I talking to you? If you have had a recent birthday then I do wish you a many happy returns! But actually I am talking to the Sex discrimination and Equal Pay legislation which is now 40 years old and still going strong. Although now the protection is under the Equality Act 2010, it has been in existence since 1975. The number of sex discrimination claims and equal pay claims still continue to exceed the number of other discrimination complaints in Tribunal and they make up a sizeable proportion of overall claims.
Research published by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills
Last year research on pregnancy and maternity related discrimination indicated that around 100,000* mothers had experienced harassment or negative comments related to pregnancy or flexible working from their employer and/or colleague.
It also found that 53,000* mothers a year were discouraged from attending antenatal appointment.
*These figures are scaled up to give a nationwide figure based on the research.
See further details of the research here.
Given the number of claims and the research, it appears that women continue to face difficulties certainly based on pregnancy and maternity and employers need to be alive to the rights of women (and men who are of course also covered by the legislation).
What should you do?
Make sure you have an effective equal opportunities policy.
If you already have an equal opportunities policy, when was it last reviewed?
An effective equal opportunities policy should discourage discriminatory attitudes and behaviours, and make job applicants and employees feel confident about equality of opportunity. The policy should set the minimum standards expected by an employer in avoiding and preventing discrimination. It needs to be implemented with proper training (see below) and publicity.