Sexual discrimination rules to change

From 6 April amendments to the Sex Discrimination Act 1975 will come into force regarding discrimination and harassment.

The new rules will have implications for the public, private and voluntary sectors. Changes include:

  • Unlawful sexual harassment will include things such as unwanted conduct relating to a person’s sex
  • Witnesses to sexual harassment can also complain if they believe that the discrimination has the effect or purpose of violating dignity or creating an intimidating environment
  • If an employer knows that an employee is being consistently discriminated against or being made to feel uncomfortable on the grounds of their gender and does nothing about it then they can be liable to have legal action taken against them

Amended regulations governing pregnancy and maternity leave will also come into force for women whose babies are due on or after 5 October this year:

  • When women are on compulsory maternity leave – the two weeks following the birth of a child – they should still receive any bonuses they would have received were they at work.
  • Failure to calculate maternity leave allowances correctly is illegal.

A full impact assessment of the effect that these amendments will have on the costs of business and the voluntary sector has been prepared and are available to the public, free of charge, from the Government Equalities Office website.

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