The most basic classification in society is based on gender and since ancient times, men and women have been assigned distinct roles. However, the contemporary scenario indicates equal opportunities for both genders to accomplish professional success. The following report focuses on the application of relevant laws to the concern of discrimination against women at the workplace in the UK. The report emphasizes on the description of the social group and the issue of discrimination in practice along with an illustration of its background. The other significant aspects highlighted in the report include references to the identification of relevant laws that can be applied to resolve the issue and their effectiveness in practice as well as factors that influence their implementation.
The concerns of discrimination against women at work in the UK continue to be a formidable setback from the perspective of social equity. The following report is aimed at identifying the social group of women in the UK and their issues related to workplace discrimination, especially in terms of equal pay for work. The report would build up on the topic of gender-based discrimination by illustrating the instances of discrimination in practice and the background history of discrimination against women (Brooks, 2016).
As per Burrell (2016), the next focus of the report would be directed towards the identification of the relevant laws such as the Equal Pay Act 1970 and the Equality Act 2010 and their implications for the concerned issue identified for the report. It would also be imperative to ascertain the course of evolution of the laws over the years in order to address the increasing complexity of the issue of gender-based discrimination in society (Burrell, 2016).
The foremost aspect presented in the report would include references to the application of the identified laws in practice in order to identify their effectiveness in actual court proceedings for resolving the concerns of discrimination faced by women at workplace in the UK. The report also draws critical insights into the pitfalls observed in the application of the Equality Act 2010 and Equal Pay Act 1970 as well as the involvement of other factors in imposing the legislation (Coppock, Haydon & Richter, 2014).
The target social group considered for this report comprises women in the UK that are employed in various professional undertakings. The prominent issue encountered by the social group is discrimination on the basis of payment for work as well as their gender. The outcomes of surveys have clearly reflected on the issues encountered by women, especially in the fact that more than four in every 10 young women had the perception that their gender would be a formidable barrier for their progress in career as compared to 4% of young males that believed they would be subject to limitations in career opportunities due to sex discrimination (Decker, et al., 2015).
The statistics could be expanded further in the distinct areas of pay and sex discrimination to reflect on the gravity of the issue considered for this report. On average, male graduates are more likely to earn 20% more than female graduates and in the case of non-graduate holders, the margin was placed at 23%. As per Hakim (2016), the financial sector reflects on the limitations of pay for women working full time as their average annual gross salary was 55% less as compared to their male counterparts. It is also interesting to observe that almost 28,000 equal pay claims are placed every year at various tribunals in the UK (Hakim, 2016).
The factor of equal pay is complicated further with the loss of £361,000 of gross earnings during working life for full-time working women within the age group of 18 to 59 as compared to males. From the perspective of sex discrimination, the background could be identified in the number of sex discrimination claims in 2011-12 i.e. 10,800. Gender-based discrimination is also identified in the context of maternity and childcare as almost 26% of women among 1500 office workers in the UK were of the opinion that having children has restricted their progress in their career. Another fact to be noted in this case is that 19% of the women surveyed experienced that they did not receive a promotion as a direct consequence of maternity leave (Kelly, 2016).
The relevant laws identified in the UK jurisdiction that can be implemented for addressing the issues of gender-based discrimination for women at the workplace are the Equal Pay law and Equality Act 2010 (Sargeant, 2016).
The Equal pay law is based on the principle of equal pay for doing equal work as observed in domestic and European Union law. The Equal Pay Act 2010 was considered as the first aspect in UK legislation that reflected profoundly on the right to equal pay among women and men. The basis for the equal pay act was identified in three aspects that have to be considered by an individual while claiming equal pay as another individual. As per Tyrrell, et al (2016), the similarity between the individuals on the basis of like work, equivalent work and work of equal value entitles both of them to equal pay (Tyrrell, et al., 2016).
In terms of like work, it signifies that the nature of work is similar or somewhat proximate irrespective of job title. Equivalent work is identified on the basis of a job evaluation scheme that considers two works as equivalent. Work of equal value is reflective of the requirements of similar levels of skills, effort, responsibility and knowledge in two works for comparison (Vickers, 2016). However, the Equal pay act was integrated into the Equality act 2010 which was responsible for a combination of various equalities legislation in order to improvise and introduce simplicity in equalities legislations.
One of the most prominent highlights of the equality Act is noted in protected characteristics which include age, race, gender, sexual orientation, religion or belief and marriage. The equality act prevents discrimination against individuals who share protected characteristics. The Equality Act builds upon the equal pay act alongside providing implications for preventing discrimination on the basis of gender in employment contexts according to Part 5 of the Act (Wray, 2016).
The changes in the equality act 2010 have been profoundly based on the requirements to address emerging issues in society pertaining to gender-based discrimination at the workplace. As per Tyrrell, et al (2016), one of the recent indications has been identified in the concerns for the protection of women from violence and sexual harassment which was derived from a review of the sex discrimination law conducted by The Fawcett Society. The review was particularly reflective of the fact that almost 50% of women were subject to sexual harassment at the workplace (Tyrrell, et al., 2016).
Furthermore, it was also identified that the sexual history of victims and references to blame culture were inappropriately used in legal proceedings in such cases. Therefore, the recommendations for changes in the equality act have been directed towards the obligations of employers to prevent discrimination and harassment as well as the criminalization of misogyny, harassment by third parties and pregnancy discrimination (Decker, et al., 2015).
The application of the equality act 2010 in the context of legal proceedings for claims of equal pay and sex discrimination could be helpful for addressing the situation owing to the precision of guidelines. The equality act clearly outlines the definitions of discrimination in employment referring to direct and indirect discrimination. Direct discrimination involves the role of the employer is treating an individual unfavourably on the basis of the protected characteristic of gender (Coppock, Haydon & Richter, 2014). Furthermore, indirect discrimination is identified if the action of the employer is responsible for imposing detrimental consequences on people with similar protected characteristics as compared to individuals who do not share the characteristic. The equal pay implications outlined in the Act are also responsible for tackling the issue of gender discrimination from legal perspectives as its long term objectives are directed towards considering reduction of inequalities in payment for men and women in the long term as the primary basis for justification of the payment inequalities as indirect discrimination against women (Sargeant, 2016). The act also requires companies in the private sector to publish information regarding the gaps in payment alongside reasons for the same which could be considered as a valid legal intervention for identifying the credibility of discrimination claims.
It is also imperative to consider the implication of the Equality Act that facilitate protection to employees from victimization on the grounds of making complaints regarding sex discrimination or equal pay and providing evidence of such complaints (Tyrrell, et al., 2016). This factor prevents women from being victimized not only for providing claims in employment tribunals but also for discussions with employers regarding matters of equal pay or sex discrimination. It is interesting to observe that the protection against victimization is profoundly observed not only for the victim but also for individuals assisting her such as comparators or employee representatives.
The factors which affect the implementation of the equality act 2010 in legal practice could be identified initially in the variations of support practices to promote equality in private and public sectors. The organizational policy and vested imperatives could be responsible for inducing pitfalls for the application of the legislation in practice (Coppock, Haydon & Richter, 2014).
The implications of written policies in organizations that prevent information-seeking privileges could also be considered as notable discrepancies in obtaining benefits from the equality act. Other factors that can be observed in this context reflect the minimal changes in awareness regarding workplace equality in small and medium enterprises. However, it was identified that organizations which depicted prior engagement with the legislation are more likely to depict compliance with the equality act (Tyrrell, et al., 2016).
The report emphasized clearly the issue faced by the social group of working women in the UK in terms of discrimination at the workplace. The summary of the overall findings of the report suggests that the application of legal precedents to the issues of discrimination at the workplace are based on access to information, engagement of organizations with law and support for the victims. The final statement could be provided as the significance of awareness of legal precedents in the promotion of gender equality.
The findings suggest that the equality act is applicable in theory as well as practice with prominent indications towards minimal setbacks in addressing concerns of sexual harassment.
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