The Fawcett Society has campaigned for greater gender equality for many years, and has just published a comprehensive study of the legal regime surrounding sex discrimination. The wide-ranging report looks at employment law, criminal law, the effect of social media geolocation features, and prostitution, amongst other things - all asking a central question: is the current regime fit for purpose.
From an employment law perspective, the report makes a number of interesting suggestions. The report is worth reading in full, but the headlines include a call for:
- a new constitutional right to equality (as already features in article 21 of the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights);
- civil penalties for non-compliance with the gender pay gap reporting regime;
- mandatory equal pay audits for larger employers;
- an extension to the protection enshrined in the legislation governing family-friendly leave, so that women and men are protected for six months after returning from leave;
- an increase in the rates for statutory maternity, paternity and shared parental pay;
- increasing statutory paternity leave from 2 to 6 weeks; and
- the reintroduction of specific protection for harassment from third parties.
Many of these policy proposals would need primary legislation, the Parliamentary time for which may be hard to find given the complexities of Brexit. But many deserve serious scrutiny, and might be useful improvements to the current system.
A ground-breaking report released today by the Fawcett Society concludes that our legal system is failing women and needs fundamental reform. The report, which is the conclusion of the Fawcett Society’s Sex Discrimination Law Review (SDLR) Panel, also found that violence against women and girls is ‘endemic’ in the UK. The report, which is the first of its kind, calls for a number of specific changes to the legal system. These include strengthening the laws on sexual harassment at work to protect women from harassment by third parties, making ‘up-skirting’ an offence, making misogyny a hate crime, making any breach of a domestic abuse order a criminal offence and extending protection from pregnancy discrimination to 6 months after maternity leave ends.