Gender Equality in the Workplace

Charmaine Watkins (Student)  

The Law 

In 2010, the Equality Act was introduced to legally protect people from being discriminated against in the workplace as well as in the wider society. This Act replaced the previous Laws on Anti-discrimination with one Act. In the UK, there are 9 protected characteristics under the Equality Act 2010. These are: 

  • Race and Ethnicity
  • Disability 
  • Religion or belief
  • Age 
  • Sexual orientation 
  • Sex
  • Gender reassignment
  • Pregnancy and maternity
  • Marriage and civil partnership

The Act provides a framework to protect against direct and indirect discrimination as a result of one of these characteristics. 

Direct discrimination is when someone is treated unfairly because of one of the characteristics, whereas indirect discrimination happens when there are rules or arrangements that apply to a group of employee causing them a disadvantage because of one of the characteristics. 

The impact of the Covid-19 Pandemic  

The Fawcett Society has indicated that Covid-19 has had a ‘devastating’ impact on gender equality in the workplace.

The Society said that women are more likely to lose work or be burdened with childcare during the crisis then men, and during the pandemic out of 8400 people surveyed, a third of working women reported a loss of work or hours. 

The Fawcett society stated that there is a danger that the gender pay gap (the average difference in pay between men and women) may widen as a result. This has been described as a coronavirus crossroads which may impact the progress of workplace equality for years. 

The UK government has said they are “committed to ensure that everyone has an equal opportunity to progress in the workplace”.

However, it is hoped that the pandemic could have brought some positive changes. Some fathers have said that they now spend twice as much time caring for their children then before March 2020. The Fawcett Society have stated that if this became the norm, it could reduce the “motherhood pay penalty” and curb the gender pay gap. 

At Staffordshire University Legal Advice Clinic (SULAC) we offer free legal advice on Equality and Discrimination related matters. If you wish to book an appointment with us call 01782 294 800 or alternatively email SULAC@staffs.ac.uk 

 

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