The Fawcett Society has published its Sex Discrimination Law Review, calling for:
- restrictions on the use of ministerial powers conferred by the European Union (Withdrawal) Bill 2017-2019 to prevent substantive changes to UK employment law and other equality and human rights legislation, including via the introduction of new opt-outs for small businesses
- civil penalties for non-compliance with gender pay gap reporting obligations, and the extension of the duty to cover the age, disability, ethnicity, sexuality and part-time status of workers, with the threshold for reporting progressively lowered to employers of over 50 employees
- the protection from dismissal due to pregnancy/maternity should be extended to six months after maternity or parental leave
- the time limit for all discrimination and harassment claims (linked to pregnancy and maternity discrimination) should be increased to six months
- statutory maternity, paternity and shared parental pay should be made “day-one” rights for all UK workers, with a higher flat rate and paternity leave extended to 6 weeks at 90% earnings
- mandatory equal pay audits every 3 years for employers of 250 people or more
- the reintroduction of equal pay questionnaires and wider recommendations in employment tribunal proceedings and an ability to seek accurate pay information by amending the Freedom of Information Act to include pay in the private sector
- class actions and injury to feelings awards for equal pay claims
- a new statutory paid period of carers’ leave and a new prohibition on multiple discrimination
- the Equality Act protection against third party harassment, subject to a defence of employers taking “reasonable steps” to prevent the harassment, should be reinstated (this was repealed in 2013).
There is presently no indication of when or if the government will respond to the review. However, Theresa May is reported to be planning to clamp down on non-disclosure agreements (NDAs) that prevent women from reporting sexual harassment following the Presidents Club scandal.