Regressive is a mild word to describe the move contained in one of 40 Private Members Bills tabled by a quad of Tory MPs. The ‘Sexual Impropriety in Employment’ bill seeks to limit sexual harassment claims being brought in a workplace unless the alleged misconduct breaks the law and has been reported to the police.
Many women in the work place already experience a tilted balance of power in favour of the employer. Many women work in industries such as the services sector and the care sector on terms and conditions which do not bolster their employment security. Add to this the fact that Zero Contract Hours is a model of employment that is increasingly being used and you get a female workforce that is becoming marginalised and desperate.
The chances of this bill being passed is extremely low but the fact that it has been tabled demonstrates a high handed dismissal of the morality of women’s concerns and rights. What is the point of a drive to get women into top positions if the ones in the middle and the bottom will be made to endure employment at all costs? Women have suffered disproportionately under the austerity drive. There is very little leeway in terms of choice in the workplace unless you are the CEO or are in top management of some multinational organisation. Cutting away hard won rights and advances serves no one but the employer. This, I fear, is the intent of the bill.