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Harassment and Gender Pay

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By Patrick Stewart

Reports of the harassment of female staff at the Presidents Club charity dinner – an all male dinner to which the great and good of the business and financial world attended - coincides with the report of the Fawcett Society into a review of sex discrimination law. The Society’s principal finding is that the laws together with the Courts and Tribunals are failing to protect woman from sex discrimination.

The Society Committee was chaired by a retired High Court Judge and included representatives from the legal world, academia, trade unions and organisations advising families.

The Society noted:

  • high levels of abuse and harassment of female staff;

  • that progress on reducing the gender pay gap is too slow;

  • that 54,000 pregnant women are pressurised into leaving work with little recourse to remedy;

  • that statutory maternity pay is much the lowest in Europe.

The recommendations in the report include:

  • reintroduction of employers’ liability for discriminatory acts perpetrated against staff by third parties (including harassment), such liability was included in the Equality Act but repealed in October 2013 by the Coalition Government. 

  • extend gender pay gap reporting from the current qualification of 250 employees or more to those organisations with 50 employees or more.

  • extend pregnancy dismissal protection to 6 months after the end of maternity leave.

  • allow for a longer and higher paid period of leave for fathers to encourage them to participate in shared parental leave.

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