Tackling gender inequality: Government Equalities Office outlines plans

3 mins

Posted on 08 Jul 2019

The Government Equalities Office has published a gender equality roadmap outlining its plans for tackling gender inequality. It will be:

  • consulting on strengthening measures to tackle sexual harassment 
  • consulting on a new right to carers’ leave 
  • reviewing the enforcement of equal pay legislation
  • assessing the effectiveness of gender pay gap reporting
  • reviewing the shared parental leave and pay scheme
  • creating a taskforce to tackle the workplace culture which breeds pregnancy and maternity discrimination 

What will be the Government Equalities Office plan for tackling workplace harassment and discrimination?

The Government Equalities Office will consult on the effectiveness of workplace harassment legislation. It is considering whether to extend the three month time limit for bringing discrimination and harassment claims. It will also seek to clarify laws on third party harassment and consider whether to extend the law to protect interns and volunteers. 

The Equality and Human Rights Commission will publish technical guidance on sexual harassment and harassment at work later this year. This will form the basis of a statutory code of conduct.

How will the commission address equal pay and the gender pay gap?

The Government will review the enforcement of equal pay legislation. This will include assessing circumstances where mandatory equal pay audits could be appropriate or proportionate. Employment tribunals have had the power since October 2014 to order an employer that loses an equal pay claim to undertake an equal pay audit and publish the results.  

It will also review gender pay gap reporting metrics to assess how effective they are in revealing the grassroots causes of the pay gap. The Government will then decide whether to update gender pay gap reporting legislation.  It will consult on any proposed changes by 2021.

The Government will launch a national campaign to provide employers with the tools to help employees balance work and care and to support progression in the workplace.  

What will be the government’s approach to pregnancy and maternity discrimination?

The Government will create a taskforce of employers and other bodies to tackle the workplace culture which breeds pregnancy and maternity discrimination.  This is in addition to any measures it takes to extend redundancy protection for pregnant women and women returning from maternity leave, following its consultation on this issue. 

How will the government address shared parental leave and pay?

The Government’s review of shared parental leave and pay is currently under way.  It should complete this by the end of 2019. It will then decide whether it needs to do anything to modernise the current system.  In any event, it plans to improve access for parents to information by launching a shared parental leave digital tool.  It will also help employers understand how to put shared parental leave into practice, for example by publishing model policies.  

The Government will consult on increasing the transparency of employers’ parental leave and pay policies and on improving the availability of flexible working in job adverts.   

What will be the government’s approach to carer’s leave?

The Government will launch a consultation on a new right to carers’ leave. It has not provided a time frame for this. 

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