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New sector guidance to combat sex discrimination

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After 39 successful sex discrimination cases in five years, including a £50,000 payout, the Equal Opportunities Commission (EOC) decided the pub and brewing industry needed help.

So, it’s launched new guidelines to help pubs and breweries avoid discriminating against their staff. The EOC has worked closely with trade bodies across the sector in drafting the guidelines, to ensure they have the full support of the industry.

Over 300,000 women currently work in pubs, bars and breweries in the UK, 59 per cent of all staff; and good equality practice not only protects workers but also increases staff retention.

Alongside the new guidelines for employers, a series of simple steps have been developed for managers:


  • Get advice before taking any disciplinary action to check that you are not in danger of discriminating against staff

  • Have an up to date equal opportunities policy that all your staff know about
  • Check that none of your policies or working practices discriminates against men or women

  • Provide a safe working environment for a pregnant employee

  • Promote a culture of dignity and respect: one person’s banter can easily be offensive or even harassment for another.

Jenny Watson, chairman of the EOC said: “Employment tribunals are costly for individuals and employers so the EOC believes the way to tackle discrimination is through prevention rather than cure.

“These guidelines, produced with the help of trade bodies, will help employers understand their responsibilities to staff and create a better working environment.

“Promoting equality also makes sound business sense. In an industry where staff retention is a key challenge facing employers, good equality practice will help to retain valuable and experienced staff.”

Mark Hastings, communications director at the British Beer and Pub Association, added: “Publicans needs clear and sound advice on this complex area of the law.

“These straightforward guidelines will help them not just to promote equality, but to avoid the pitfalls that can result in costly legal action in this area.

“These guidelines are therefore very welcome, and we are pleased to have been able to work with the EOC, and other bodies within the entertainment industry, to produce them.”

The guidelines can be found at: EOC guidelines

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