Government inquiry to strengthen women’s rights at work

Tony
Blair is to announce a strengthening of laws on women’s rights in the workplace
this week after a series of high-profile sex discrimination cases.

The
Prime Minister will condemn recent cases where women have been groped,
humiliated and bullied in offices and factories across the UK, according to the
Sunday Times.

Blair
will announce on Friday that he is setting up a year-long independent inquiry,
provisionally entitled the Women at Work Commission, to recommend ways of
tightening of the law, the newspaper reports.

It
will look at all aspects of improving the lot of women at work, including
better pay and curbing both sexual discrimination and being passed over for
promotion in favour of men.

The
move comes after prominent cases in recent weeks where women have won big
payouts after being systematically paid less than men and humiliated by their
bosses.

Elizabeth
Weston, 29, a lawyer, was given a £1m settlement by her employer, investment
bank Merrill Lynch, before it reached a tribunal.

She
claimed senior members of her department had repeatedly pestered her about her
body and her sex life with her husband.

Research
in the public and private sectors in the UK and abroad suggests at least 50 per
cent of women have experienced sexual harassment at work.

But
pay is also a key issue for Blair, who has been alarmed that 30 years after the
Equal Pay Act, the average pay gap between the sexes now stands at 24 per cent,
and is continuing to grow.

The
inquiry will follow the model of the Low Pay Commission, the body that sets the
minimum wage and that was introduced by Labour in 1998. It is likely to be
given a permanent role in monitoring the Government’s progress.

By Daniel Thomas

Comments are closed.