Sex Discrimination Act 1975 (Amendment) Regulations 2008 come into force

Implementation date: 6 April 2008

The Equal Opportunities Commission was successful in an application for judicial review of the implementation of the Equal Treatment Directive through the Employment Equality (Sex Discrimination) Regulations 2005, which amended the Sex Discrimination Act 1975. The High Court found that the Regulations did not adequately implement the Equal Treatment Directive and the Government was obliged to make appropriate amendments to the Act, which it is doing via the Sex Discrimination Act 1975 (Amendment) Regulations 2008.

Regulation 2 amends the definition of discrimination on grounds of pregnancy or maternity leave to eliminate the requirement for a comparator who is not pregnant or not on maternity leave, as the case may be.

Regulation 3 amends the definition of harassment to remove the causal link between harassment and the sex of the person being harassed. The change enables claims to be made by someone who is not subjected to the unwanted conduct him- or herself, but where the effect of it nonetheless violates his or her dignity or creates an intimidating environment for him or her. 

Regulation 4 makes it unlawful for an employer to fail to take reasonably practicable steps to protect employees from harassment by third parties where such harassment is known to have occurred on at least two other occasions.

Regulation 5 narrows the extent to which it is not discriminatory to deprive a woman of the benefit of her terms and condition of employment during maternity leave. The amendment facilitates claims for discrimination in relation to eligibility for remuneration by way of bonus while on compulsory maternity leave. In addition, it enables claims for discrimination in relation to terms and conditions of employment in relation to periods of additional maternity leave to the same extent to which they are available in relation to periods of ordinary maternity leave. The amendments made by this regulation apply where a woman’s expected week of childbirth begins on or after 5 October 2008. The Regulations can be viewed on the OPSI website.