What Does The Fawcett Report Mean for Employers?
The Fawcett report acknowledges that significant progress has been made toward gender equality, it emphasises that much remains to be done. The report provides a comprehensive review of current sex discrimination laws, focusing on the areas of pay, family friendly rights, workplace harassment, violence against women, and access to justice.
What does the report recommend?
Perhaps of most interest to employers—given that the requirement to publish gender pay gap reports is a matter of weeks away—are the report’s extensive recommendations on pay. The Fawcett Society advocates introducing civil penalties for noncompliance with gender pay gap reporting and enhancing the powers and resources provided to the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) to carry out enforcement activity to provide a more immediate impact on companies that are noncompliant with the Gender Pay Gap Reporting Regulations. Fawcett also recommends that the regulations be amended to break down the gender pay gap by age, disability, ethnicity, sexuality, and part-time status and that by 2020, the regulations should apply to employers with more than 50 employees.
What does the report further recommend?
The report further recommends the reintroduction of Equal Pay Questionnaires and the introduction of mandatory equal pay audits every three years for employers with over 250 employees. Fawcett also suggests that the indicative timetable for equal value and equal pay claims should be enforced by the Employment Tribunals and, notably, that class actions should be developed for equal pay claims and automatically include pension contributions, whilst not diminishing a woman’s right to pursue an individual claim. In respect of workplace harassment, the report suggests the reintroduction of Section 40 of the Equality Act 2010 to guarantee legal protection against harassment by third parties, and the extension of protection from harassment under Section 26(5) to pregnancy and maternity as well as marriage and civil partnership status.
Critics of the report...
Whilst some critics of the report have questioned the practicability of implementing a number of its recommendations, the report undoubtedly contributes to the discussion on gender equality in the workplace and progresses the conversation about equality more broadly. Employers should be prepared for further changes to the legal and enforcement framework and should ensure that the issue of equality remains an important topic on board agendas.
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