Labour promises ‘step change’ in way women are treated at work

Labour is promising to raise statutory maternity pay and increase the entitlement to flexible working as part of a “step change” in the way women are treated at work.

Shadow women and equalities secretary Dawn Butler said a Labour government would create a new workers’ protection agency with powers to fine employers who fail to report or take action to deal with their “gender pay gap”.

Statutory maternity pay would be increased from nine months to 12 and there would be a “presumption” in favour of flexible working from the first day an employee joins an organisation.

Larger employers would be required to put in place policies to support women going through the menopause.

The rules on tackling sexual harassment in the workplace would be strengthened, making employers liable for any harassment experienced by staff by “third parties” such as customers or clients.

Employers would be required to publish their sexual harassment policies, while contractual clauses which stop the future disclosure of discrimination, harassment or victimisation will be made void.

The role of trade union equality representatives would be enshrined in law.

Ms Butler said: “Next Thursday, it is equal pay day, the day when women effectively stop getting paid for the rest of the year compared to their male counterparts. It’s a disgrace.

“I’m sick of how women are treated at work. Audits aren’t enough, we know there’s a problem that needs fixing.

“Labour will deliver a workplace revolution to bring about a step change in how women are treated at work.

“We’ll boost pay, increase flexibility, and strengthen protections against harassment and discrimination.”

Business Secretary Andrea Leadsom warned the plans would lead to job losses.

“A vote for Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour is a vote to put businesses and jobs at risk,” she said.

“Their reckless plans would cripple businesses across the country – leaving hardworking people to pay the price.”