Sex discrimination rules could be extended to SMEs and overseas


Sex discrimination rules could be extended to SMEs and overseas

The government is consulting on proposals to extend rules for tackling sex discrimination in the workplace.

The proposed changes include giving UK employees working overseas for UK companies the same discrimination rights over recruitment, terms and conditions, pay, promotions, transfers and dismissals as staff in the UK.

Exemptions for small companies would be removed under the plans, giving them the same responsibilities as large employers not to discriminate against employees on the grounds of sex, pregnancy or maternity leave.

The proposals by the Department of Trade & Industry aim to update the Sex Discrimination Act to bring it into line with the EC Equal Treatment Directive.

"Our aim is to make it easier for employers and individuals to understand what the law requires, helping to contribute to a fairer workplace where everyone receives fair and equal treatment," said equality minister Jacqui Smith.

The government also plans to introduce similar rules with regard to unpaid work experience placements.

For example, an IT firm offering work placements for college students would have to offer placements both to boys and girls.

"No one should be discriminated against because of their sex. I want to see fair and equal treatment for everyone and this consultation is an important step in helping us reach that goal," said Smith.

Employers have until 31 May to respond to the consultation.

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