In Brief NI: March 2022

Posted in : Supplementary Articles NI on 8 March 2022
Legal Island
Legal Island
Issues covered: Equal Pay, Menopause, Covid-19

This month’s 'In Brief' focuses on all things female in recognition of International Women’s Day on Tuesday 8th March! We’ve highlighted the key themes, to help you keep up to date with developments. 

Sex(ism) and the City

Let’s start with a high as the BBC have reported that a government-backed review has found that nearly 40% of the board positions at the UK's biggest companies are now held by women. FTSE Women Leaders Review found 414 women held company board roles at FTSE 100 firms last year, up from 374 in 2020. But the review also exposed a lack of women in executive director roles. Just 13.5% of the executive director positions were held by women in 2021, down from 14.2% the year before. You can read the full FTSE Women Leaders report HERE.

However, People Management take a different view saying that employers are finding it difficult to close both their ethnicity and gender pay gaps, despite firms overwhelmingly supporting efforts to improve equality. A report from Mercer, which polled 130 UK employers, found that three-quarters (75 per cent) disagreed with the government’s decision to pause gender pay gap reporting in 2020 because of the coronavirus pandemic, while a similar proportion (74 per cent) said they continued their commitment to inclusion despite the suspension. However, despite this support, almost half (49 per cent) of respondents said they saw little or no year-on-year progress when it came to reducing their gender pay gap between 2019 and 2020. 

Fancy working for free for two months of the year? According to the TUC women already do just that! They report that the average woman effectively works for free for nearly two months of the year compared to the average man, according to analysis published by the TUC last week.  The gender pay gap in GB for all employees is 15.4 per cent. This pay gap means that women wait 56 days before they start to get paid on Women’s Pay Day.

Wondering what the position on Gender Pay Gap Reporting is in NI? Find out HERE.

But, unfortunately it’s not all woke and enlightenment in the City as the Guardian reports that a City banker who had a witch’s hat left on her desk by drunken male colleagues has won more than £2m in compensation for sexual discrimination. Stacey Macken, 50, sued French bank BNP Paribas after being belittled by her boss who kept telling her “not now, Stacey” – a phrase he used so often that colleagues even copied it.

And the public sector has similar issues, ably pointed out to them by a Tribunal. Apparently asking a pregnant woman whether she is coming back to work before she goes on maternity leave is discrimination, an employment tribunal has ruled - shocking, I know!  Laura Jo Duffy, who worked as a PA at Barnet, Enfield & Haringey Mental Health NHS Trust in North London, successfully sued the health service after her boss nodded towards her stomach while asking about her 'future plans'.  The NHS worker was also asked by a colleague if she had informed managers she would not be returning after maternity leave - even though she had never said what her intentions were, a hearing in Watford was told.  The tribunal ruled this comment was based on a 'stereotypical assumption about new mothers not returning to work'.

Normalising the Menopause

Olga Pollock of Firmus Energy has written a great article on menopause in the workplace, ensuring that this ‘hot topic’ (her words, not mine!) stays on the agenda. Olga says that in order to avoid potential discrimination claims and loss of productivity we need to normalise offering menopause support much in the same way we support people suffering from physical or mental health conditions. Make sure you have a read of the full article.

Golf joins the 20th Century (next stop the 21st?!)

Golf equality is picking up speed - as it was announced this week that a woman is set to make history by becoming the first woman to captain a golf club in Northern Ireland.  Alison Chestnutt will take up the role at Dungannon Golf Club next month.  Traditionally most golf clubs are made up of men and women branches, with different captains selected to lead each.  However, Alison will be the first time a woman - representing both the male and female members - leads a Northern Ireland club. 

Covid-19 benefited women (well there had to be some silver-lining!)

The rise in working from home during Covid-19 appears to have helped a number of women get back into work, an Ulster University (UU) study suggests. The report is based on official data, a survey and interviews carried out by UU's Economic Policy Centre (EPC).

Equal Pay a Step Closer for Retail Workers

Co-op shop floor workers have won a key legal argument in a battle to secure equal pay with warehouse staff.  More than 1,600 mostly female supermarket workers have been fighting for pay parity with mostly male staff at distribution centres, who are paid up to £3 an hour more.  Co-op has conceded a "comparability concession", a step towards recognising the different roles are of equal value.  It comes amid similar equal pay battles at rival supermarkets Tesco, Asda, Sainsbury's and Morrisons. 



This article is correct at 08/03/2022

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