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Employment Law

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Veale Wasborough Vizards , 05 SEP 2016

Discrimination in the workplace: is it getting worse?

Discrimination in the workplace: is it getting worse?
Charlotte Williams
Solicitor, Veale Wasbrough Vizards

This week saw the publication of two separate reports concerning discrimination in the workplace.

While the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) has published a review into race and equality across a number of areas (including employment), Citizens Advice has reported a nearly 60% rise in the number of women seeking advice and support in connection with maternity leave issues.

Race discrimination

The EHRC report indicates that, while the gap in employment rates between ethnic minorities and the overall population has decreased in recent years: 'Black men and women have experienced some of the largest falls in full-time employment between 2006 and 2008, and in 2013 across the UK'.

The disparity amongst young people with degrees is stark. The report states that, 'black workers with degrees earn 23 per cent less on average than white workers with degrees'.

The report also notes that young people from ethnic minorities have suffered disproportionately as a result of the recession triggered by the banking crisis. Between 2010 and 2015, there was a 49% increase in the number of 16-24 year olds from ethnic communities in the UK who were long-term unemployed. In the same period, there was 'a fall of 1% in overall long-term youth unemployment and a 2% fall among young white people'.

The EHRC report calls upon the government to develop a 'comprehensive, co-ordinated and long-term strategy to achieve race equality'.

The government concluded a call for evidence to establish the obstacles faced by people in black and ethnic minorities in the workplace in August 2016.

Maternity discrimination

In its report 'Sharp practice at work: maternity rights' published in August 2016, Citizens Advice states they have seen a recent significant increase in people coming to them with problems concerning maternity rights. They report a 100% increase in visits to their pregnancy discrimination advice pages on their website and a 58% increase in the number of maternity leave issues being brought to them for face-to-face help in the last 2 years.

The report details issues with enforcement and suggests that the government combines the forces of the existing enforcement bodies into one well-resourced body. The report also notes the level of employment tribunal fees deters those whose rights are violated from bringing action to protect and defend them.
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