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Employment Laws are Failing Women

The UK’s legal system is failing women and needs fundamental reform in a number of key areas, including employment, a new report from the Fawcett Society has claimed. 

The report’s findings with relation to employment include:

  • Half of all women have experienced sexual harassment at work
  • Progress on closing the pay gap has stalled, a lack of transparency prevents women from challenging unequal pay and legal cases can take many years to resolve
  • 54,000 pregnant women and working mothers are pressured to leave their job early each year but just 1% of cases go to tribunal. Women are not protected after they return to work from maternity leave
  • Statutory maternity and paternity pay is amongst the lowest in Europe

The report calls for a number of specific changes to the legal system, including to laws relating to employment. These include strengthening the laws on sexual harassment at work to protect women from harassment by third parties, and extending protection from pregnancy discrimination to six months after maternity leave ends.

“There has been much progress for women at work since the arrival of the Sex Discrimination Act in 1975. But, in some areas, undue legal complexity and delay have hampered that progress,” commented Dame Laura Cox, Chair of the Review Panel. “Over time the rate of change has been far too slow, or has stalled, or has even gone into reverse. There is therefore a powerful case for change, to ensure that our sex equality laws are fulfilling their purpose, that employers do more to prevent sex discrimination in the first place, and that working women have access to justice to enforce their rights where they need to.”

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