Government must tackle workplace discrimination against LGBT workers

29 July 2021

The general secretaries of 40 British trade unions have written to Equalities Minister Liz Truss to call for an urgent reset in the Government’s approach to LGBT rights.

The open letter, which was also signed by the TUC, criticises the Government for its inaction on tackling discrimination and harassment faced by LGBT people in the workplace.

The initiative follows the Government’s recent decisions to scrap its LGBT Action Plan and to disband its LGBT Advisory Panel, moves which, the unions claim, have dismayed many in the LGBT community and sent out a worrying message to wider society.

The TUC has highlighted evidence showing that nearly two in five LGBT workers have been harassed or discriminated against by a colleague, while a quarter have been discriminated against by their manager, and around one in seven by a client or patient.

Furthermore, nearly half of all trans workers have experienced bullying or harassment at work and 70% of LGBT workers have faced sexual harassment at work.

The union leaders call on the Government to introduce a new duty on employers to protect workers from harassment by customers and clients, and a specific duty to protect workers from sexual harassment.

They also want employment tribunals to have powers to make wider recommendations to employers to “root out systemic failings and cultures of bullying and harassment”.

TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady said: “Ministers must take a lead, and change the law so that employers have to protect their staff from homophobic and transphobic abuse by customers and clients”.

Comment by Kate Palmer, HR Advice and Consultancy Director at Peninsula

These figures show the shocking reality of how poorly implemented policies on tackling harassment and discrimination can affect businesses and the employees who work within them.

This report may therefore prompt employers into taking “all reasonable steps” to protect staff and review their workplace practices, particularly when it pertains to those protected under the Equality Act 2010.