With the establishment of legislation that addresses race relations in the workplace and the issue of gender discrimination, such as equal pay, trade unions have joined the effort to promote equality of opportunity amongst their members. We aim to address equality issues in the workplace - on an individual level as well as on a collective basis.
The four advisory committees established are looked after by the EO department, which deals with areas of potential discrimination. They offer advice to branches on equal opportunities issues, and provide assistance with harassment and discrimination cases.
Contact our team at CWU South East Anglia Branch, by our free phone number: 0800 090 2303.
One in three LGBT people have been harassed or bullied at work, says TUC
More than one in three (36%) of LGBT people have been harassed or bullied at work, according to a major new study published by the TUC today (Thursday), ahead of Pride in London and the TUC’s LGBT conference.
More than 5,000 LGBT people responded to the survey, making it the most comprehensive workplace survey of LGBT people in the UK.
· Harassment and discrimination: More than one in three (36%) of LGBT workers have been harassed or bullied at work. Nearly two in five (39%) LGBT workers have been harassed or discriminated against by a colleague, more than one in four (29%) by a manager and around one in seven (14%) by a client or patient. This harassment and discrimination could include anything from “jokes” at the expense of LGBT people, to bullying, or blocking someone’s career development.
· Being out at work: Only half (51%) of LGBT people – and just one in three (36%) young people – are out or open about their sexuality to all their colleagues at work. More than one in four (27%) of bisexual respondents hide their sexuality at work.
· “Outing”: Almost one in three (30%) trans respondents have had their trans status disclosed against their will.
TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady said: “Britain is fast becoming a more equal and accepting country. But it’s shocking that in 2017 so many lesbian, gay, bi and trans people around the UK still experience discrimination and harassment at work just because of their sexuality or because they are trans.
“Let’s be clear – homophobia and transphobia at work is undermining, humiliating and can have a huge effect on mental health. LGBT workers are often left feeling ashamed and frightened. It has no place in a modern workplace, or in wider society.
“Employers must be clear that they have a zero tolerance attitude to harassment of their LGBT staff – and stand ready to treat any complaint seriously.
“Many unions have a network for LGBT staff – and reps who are ready to stand up for LGBT workers facing harassment and discrimination. So if you’re worried about what’s going on in your workplace, you should join a union.”
The TUC is calling on the government to:
· Ban zero-hours contracts, which leave LGBT workers at risk of discrimination as bosses can just withdraw hours from anyone who complains. People who work regular hours should have a right to a written contract guaranteeing those hours every week – and overtime pay if they are needed for more hours.
· Abolish employment tribunal fees. Fees make it harder for LGBT people who have experienced discrimination or harassment to get justice.
· Promote LGBT-inclusive equality training in all industries and professions.
· Make sex and relationship education in schools LGBT inclusive to ensure homophobia, biphobia and transphobia are addressed as early as possible.
· “Male colleagues have made sexually suggestive or offensive comments with regards to my sexual orientation, asking or alluding to my sex life or claiming that they can ‘turn’ me straight.”
· “I was ‘just’ a receptionist on a zero-hours contract and didn’t want to rock the boat or I wouldn't be offered shifts.”
· “I was working in retail and a supervisor asked personal questions about my sex life and orientation – for example, my masturbation habits – in front of both colleagues and customers.”
· “By far the most common occurrence of mistreatment was when colleagues would mock my gender/transition openly with customers. Had my shirt torn open to try and expose my chest and ‘out’ me as ‘a man’ in public.”
Notes to Editors:
- The full report is available at: www.tuc.org.uk/sites/default/files/LGBTreport17.pdf
- Twitter: To tweet about this story please use #TUCLGBT
- Methodology: The TUC wanted to explore in depth the experience of LGBT workers to find out if they continue to face bullying, harassment and discrimination. The research was conducted on Survey Monkey between 1 March and 14 May 2017 and was promoted on social media, receiving 5,074 responses. Few representative national surveys exist of LGBT people. However, recent research from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) has summarised the characteristics of LGBT people in the UK. The table below sets out the differences between those in our survey and the national population of LGBT people in the UK. In brief, our survey slightly under-represents LGBT people from a minority ethnic background, and younger LGBT people.
Proportion of those responding to our survey in this group
Proportion of the UK LGBT population in this group
*These age bands have been combined because the ONS bands for older ages (34-49, 50-64, 65+) did not match the survey bands (35-44, 45-54, 55+) and so no direct comparison was possible.
The Cost of Being Out at Work
Legal rights for people who are LGBT+ have seen huge changes over the past few years. As a result, it would be easy to assume that LGBT+ people have finally gained the equality that they, and we, fought so long to achieve. But reports from trade union reps suggest that lived equality in the workplace is still not the experience for many LGBT+ workers. The TUC undertook this research to better understand the experiences of LGBT+ workers across the UK. This TUC research gives us solid statistical evidence as well as the stories of LGBT+ workers to give voice to those
(often hidden) experiences.
We used an online survey to reach as many LGBT+ people as possible including those that are not part of a trade union. We wanted to collect individual stories and understand, if people experienced discrimination and harassment, what form it took, how it impacted them and how they sought redress.
Key findings relating to LGBT+ workers are:
· Nearly two in five (39 per cent) of all respondents have been harassed or discriminated against by a colleague, a quarter (29 per cent) by a manager and around one in seven (14 per cent) by a client or patient.
· Only a third of respondents (34 per cent) reported the latest incident of harassment or discrimination to their employer, one in eight (12 per cent) reported it to HR.
· Only half (51 per cent) of all respondents are ‘out’ (open about their sexuality) to everyone at work. This falls to just over a third (36 per cent) of young people. Over a quarter (27 per cent) of bisexuals are out to no one.
· Almost half of trans people (48 per cent) have experienced bullying or harassment at work compared to just over a third (35 per cent) of non-trans respondents.
· Over three fifths (62 per cent) of all respondents have heard homophobic or biphobic remarks or jokes directed to others at work, while over a quarter (28 per cent) have had such comments directed at them.
· Just under a quarter (23 per cent) of all respondents have been outed against their will, while almost a third (30 per cent) of transgender respondents have had their trans status disclosed against their will.
· Only a third of respondents reported the latest incident of harassment or discrimination to their employer, one in eight reported it to HR.
A quarter of new dads are missing out on paternity leave and pay
- More than 157,000 new fathers did not qualify for paternity leave or pay last year
- TUC calls on new government to give new dads better paternity leave and pay entitlements
One in four men who became fathers in 2016 didn’t qualify for paternity leave or pay, according to new TUC analysis published on Fathers’ Day today (Sunday).
In 2016 there were around 625,000 working dads around the UK with a child under one. However, a quarter of them (25%) – more than 157,000 new fathers – did not qualify for the up to two weeks’ statutory paternity leave and statutory paternity pay.
The main reason is that they were self-employed – this affected nearly 113,000 working dads. Unlike self-employed mums who are eligible for a maternity allowance, dads who work for themselves don’t get a similar paternity allowance.
And another 44,000 dads didn’t get paid paternity leave or pay because they hadn’t been working for their employer for long enough. The law requires employees to have at least six months’ service with their current employer by the 15th week before the baby is due to qualify for paternity leave.
The TUC is concerned that so many dads are missing out on the chance to spend valuable time at home with their partners and babies because they cannot afford to.
Many low-paid fathers struggle to take the time off because statutory paternity pay is just £140.98 a week. This is less than half what someone earning the minimum wage would earn over a 40-hour week (£300).
TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady said: “It’s really important for dads to be able to spend time at home with their families when they have a new baby.
“But too many fathers are missing out because they don’t qualify– or because they can’t afford to use their leave.
“We’d like to see all dads being given a right to longer, better-paid leave when a child is born. And for this to be a day one right.
“When parents share caring responsibilities it helps strengthen relationships – and makes it easier for mothers to continue their careers.”
The TUC believes the government should give new fathers:
1. A right to statutory paternity leave for all workers from day one in the job, in the same way that maternity leave is a day one right.
2. Increased paternity pay. The TUC wants the government to increase statutory paternity pay to at least minimum wage levels.
3. A paternity allowance for dads who are not eligible for statutory paternity pay. This would be similar to the maternity allowance which self-employed mothers and mothers who haven’t been with their employers long enough can claim.
4. Dedicated leave for dads. Government should introduce an additional month of well-paid parental leave and reserve it for fathers only to use.
Notes to Editors:
- Working fathers with a child under one:
Average from Labour Force Survey, 2016
Total number of fathers in paid work with a child under one
Fathers with a child under one who are self-employed
Employee fathers with a child under one with less than 6 months service in current job
Total number of fathers in paid work with a child under one who don‘t qualify for paternity pay
% fathers in paid work with a child under one who don‘t qualify for paternity pay
Source: Labour Force Survey, 2016
- Statutory paternity pay is £140.98 a week, or 90% of your average weekly earnings, whichever is less.
- The TUC’s Leave and pay for fathers and partners leaflet is available at www.tuc.org.uk/sites/default/files/TUC%20KYR_Paternity_LO%20%28spreads%29.pdf
- The TUC is calling for better paternity pay and leave for fathers and partners.
- All TUC press releases can be found at tuc.org.uk/media
- TUC Press Office on Twitter: @tucnews
Love Equality – the fight for same-sex marriage in Northern Ireland
07 Jun 2017, By Claire Mullaly Guest
It was whilst working at Royal Mail at the central Tomb Street sorting office in Belfast in 2002 that I first truly fathomed the transformational power of the trade union movement. A 20-year-old Catholic postman Daniel McColgan was murdered by the loyalist paramilitary group – the UDA in January 2002 as he arrived for work. The paramilitaries then issued death threats against all Catholic postal workers. Royal Mail workers, both Catholic and Protestant went on strike for 3 days until the threats were lifted, and 20,000 workers attended a city centre rally during a half day stoppage called by the Irish Congress of Trade Unions which was attended by a cross section of workers including the Fire Brigade who had not been on strike since 1977. Fear and division was replaced by strength and solidarity.
Fifteen years on, the Irish Congress of Trade Unions, alongside Amnesty International, NUS Union of Students Ireland and local LGBT+ groups is a part of the Love Equality consortium fighting for Equal Marriage in Northern Ireland. Northern Ireland, with its population of 1.8 million is the only region in UK and Ireland where marriage equality is not legally recognised. In October 2016 First Minister Arlene Foster, of the DUP, vowed to block equal marriage for the next 5 years using the veto introduced under the 1998 Good Friday Agreement, designed to protect minorities, called the Petition of Concern. The First Minister claimed to speak for those “who want to protect marriage and don’t want to see it redefined”. This is utterly incongruous with the intention and spirit of sexual orientation equality legislation, that individuals should not be treated less favourably because of their sexual orientation. This bleak situation is in contrast to the euphoric scenes in the Republic of Ireland following the Yes vote in the 2015 Equal Marriage referendum, and in contrast to the US Obergefell v. Hodges Supreme Court case in which the Court determined by 5 votes to 4 that the right to marry is guaranteed to same-sex couples.
As recently as 2014, Northern Ireland has been on the precipice of a human rights regression. The largest party – the DUP, attempted to legislate for a “conscience clause” to be applied to equality legislation where businesses would be allowed to refuse to serve LGBT+ people on religious grounds. Continual political attacks on the LGBT+ community and the continued use of the Petition of Concern veto impacts massively on mental health. A recent study conducted by the Rainbow Project discovered that within Northern Ireland’s LGBT+ community, 47% of those surveyed had considered suicide, and 71% had suffered depression. A further cruel blow to the LGBT+ community is the situation whereby a person could leave Northern Ireland, fall in love, get married and never be able to come home without their marriage being changed against their will to a civil partnership.
If displacement is considered as an involuntary movement, when people feel they have no choice but to move, then the ‘troubles’ in Northern Ireland, with its direct correlation between levels of violence and outward migration of people from Northern Ireland created a displaced people living in mainland UK and beyond. Should these people wish to return, they return to a province where the LGBT+ community are treated unequally and excluded from the institution of marriage and the benefits and respect that marriage confers.
It can be said that same-sex marriage is the benchmark for LGBT+ equality in the western world. If this is the case then the message the devolved assembly at Stormont sends out to LGBT+ people is loud and clear – your place is on the fringes, and you are not part of society.
The struggle is hard fought and gruelling in a post conflict Northern Ireland, where there is a makeshift and often dysfunctional power sharing devolved government. The devolved government is currently in a state of disarray following its post RHI (Renewable Heat Incentive) scandal disintegration. The March 2017 elections following the collapse of Stormont returned the DUP as the largest party again, this time one seat short of the 30 required to trigger the Petition of Concern veto, they do, however, require only one likeminded MLA to support their veto should a government be formed.
The Northern Irish people are overwhelmingly in favour of Equal Marriage and in a recent IPSOS MORI poll, 70% of respondents were in favour of Equal Marriage and even 50% of DUP supporters were in favour, and furthermore the scene of 20,000 people, including huge trade union representation marching through Belfast demanding marriage equality in 2015 was utterly breath-taking. In addition to all other avenues, there are currently two legal challenges in progress, one by a same-sex couple who were married in England and are fighting to have their marriage recognised in Northern Ireland and the second challenges the ban on same-sex marriage in Northern Ireland, on the basis that this is a human rights breach under the European Convention on Human Rights. We are so close, yet so far from achieving Equal Marriage and call on all trade unionists with all their transformational powers, in UK, Ireland and beyond – to support Love Equality, to communicate and give visibility to our cause, to influence decision makers in Westminster and beyond, and to stand shoulder to shoulder in strength and solidarity with Northern Ireland to help deliver Equal Marriage without any more wasted years and without any more barriers to love.
For more information on Love Equality visit: http://loveequalityni.org/
For more information on Irish Congress of Trade Unions visit: http://www.ictuni.org/
The International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia (IDAHOT) Day
IDAHOT Day aims to raise awareness of the violence, discrimination, and repression of LGBT communities worldwide. This in turn provides an opportunity to take action and engage in dialogue with the media, policymakers, public opinion, and wider civil society.
National Equality Officer Linda Roy said "LGBT rights in many countries throughout the world have been improving rapidly since the 1970s. But sadly too many LGBT people continue to face gross intolerance from many parts of society.
In the UK, following the Brexit referendum, we have seen a rise in homophobic hate crimes. Debates at this year’s Annual General Conference also highlighted that in Turkey and Chechnya discrimination and violence against LGBT people is supported or encouraged by the state. These abuses of human rights were condemned unanimously by delegates.
The CWU are proud to commemorate IDAHOT Day. We were the first trade union to build a dedicated IDAHOT memorial which is situated in the garden of the CWU Education Centre at Alvescot Lodge.
Through the NEC and LGBT advisory committee we will continue to play a lead role in promoting LGBT rights, and supporting those who are abused and oppressed because of their gender identity and sexual orientation in Turkey, Chechnya and worldwide.”
Racism at work
Publication of the McGregor-Smith review on the barriers BME people face when in work is seen as an opportunity for the government to finally take action and tackle the discrimination.
Over the years we at the Trades Union Congress (TUC) have consistently stressed the need for a separate and clear race equality strategy and action plan that tackles the lack of access to training, promotion, unfair performance assessment, and addresses the pay gap between BME workers and white workers.
What does the report say?
The report estimated that our economy could benefit from £24 billion if race discrimination in the workplace did not exist. Imagine what this extra cash can be spent on – NHS, social care, education, social security.
In 2015, one in eight of the working age population were from a BME background, but BME people makeup only ten per cent of the workforce and hold only six per cent of top management positions.
The employment rate for ethnic minorities is only 62.8 per cent compared with an employment rate of 75.6 per cent for a white worker. There is an employment gap of over 12 per cent. The gap is much worse for some ethnic groups. For individuals with a Pakistani or Bangladeshi background, the employment rate is 54.9 per cent.
Our past research shows that BME workers are a third more likely to be underemployed. The report ‘Black, Qualified and Unemployed‘ demonstrated that at all levels of qualifications BME workers face higher rates of unemployment than white workers. And our ‘Living on the Margins‘ report revealed that BME workers have been disproportionately affected by the rise in precarious work.
If the picture set above sounds too bleak for BME workers, the reality is that the discrimination BME people face at work is real, but what this report shows is that the government needs to take immediate and decisive action to deal with racism in the workplace.
The power of unions
We are pleased that Ruby McGregor-Smith has taken on board some of our recommendations from the evidence we provided for the review. Companies with over 50 employees to publish data on race and pay as well as set aspirational targets for how businesses expect their organisations to look like in five years’ time and measure progress of the targets on a yearly basis.
Ethnic monitoring is essential if employers are to identify and tackle patterns of inequality at work. To achieve this organisation will need to collect baseline data, regularly update this information so that it can be seen in the context of trends in the workplace, and produce measurable race equality targets. Equally important is that this process is open and transparent.
For many years we have been calling on the government to introduce central and local government race equality requirements into public sector contracts for the supply of goods and services as a way of providing incentives for companies to improve their race equality policies and practices. We believe companies that do not meet the requirements should not be awarded public contracts.
We are also pleased Ruby McGregor-Smith listened to the voice of the trade unions by citing TUC reports in the review. There is also a section in the report of best practice case studies which includes examples from NASUWT, UCU, STUC and NUT on how unions are delivering change on race at work.
What needs to happen now
The review is providing companies with the opportunity to implement these recommendations. The most important part of this report is that the recommendations are business led and voluntary. Businesses are being encouraged to follow these recommendations to the government to review in a year’s time.
The report has made the clear business case, and the benefits of gaining £24 billion in the economy should be an even more incentive for companies to want to tackle race at work but is this enough? Can we afford to wait and see what employers will do and if they will take action?
We believe that waiting to see how businesses will respond to the review recommendations is not an option. The government needs to act on all the recommendations in the report and implement the recommendation which calls for legislation to ensure that all companies employing more than 50 people publish workforce data by race and pay band.
In the meantime, unions will continue to campaign on racism. We will continue to highlight racial injustice in the workplace through our upcoming findings from the racism at work survey which just ended.
Natasha Owusu is the Policy and Campaigns Support Officer in the Trades Union Congress’s (TUC) Equality and Strategy department