Sex discrimination in the workplace continues to be a growing issue
The Martin Searle Solicitors Employment Law team have found that the pandemic and numerous lockdowns have resulted in a notable increase in women seeking employment law advice about sex discrimination at work. It is ever more important that we continue to educate and support employers while advising employees of their rights, so that we stamp out sex discrimination once and for all.
Sex discrimination at work in numbers
A study carried out in December 2021 found that women are being paid a median hourly rate of 10.2% less than their male colleagues, a gap that has increased in the last year. The Women’s Budget Group notes that twice as many women than men are in the bottom 10% of earners, leaving them more vulnerable in a faltering economy.
A December 2021 report by the Institute for Fiscal Studies notes that inequalities in earnings increase vastly after parenthood, implying that the unpaid care work associated, in particular, with motherhood is central in shaping inequalities in the labour market. Even mothers who earn more than their male partners before childbirth are more likely than their partners to reduce their hours of work in the years after childbirth.
Pregnancy and Maternity Discrimination is still rife with many women being unfairly dismissed when announcing their pregnancy. Maternity returners often find their job has been given away to someone else so they are unfairly selected for redundancy when they return.
There is still the ongoing issue of sexual harassment in the workplace. A 2020 survey carried out by the Government Equalities Office found that 30% of women had experienced sexual harassment at work over the past year, whilst only 51% thought that their employer was tackling sexual harassment well. Two thirds of those surveyed had not noticed any changes in how their employer approached the issue of sexual harassment at work.
Lastly, women are experiencing discrimination due to going through the menopause. A 2019 survey conducted by BUPA and CIPD found that 3 in 5 menopausal women were negatively affected at work and that almost 9 million women in the UK left their jobs because of menopausal symptoms. This type of discrimination can straddle sex, age and disability discrimination if the symptoms meet the criteria for disability.