How could Brexit affect women's rights?

Equal pay for equal work is written into EU legislation, and many protections currently in place in the UK for vulnerable women come from the EU. After Brexit, some of these rights could be eroded over time.

The Great Repeal Bill, a new piece of legislation to ensure EU law no longer applies in the UK, will be progressed through Parliament soon. It will contain powers for secretaries of state to remove European legislation deemed unnecessary. Those powers to remove can be exercised without scrutiny, making it possible for senior government representatives to sign away regulations, powers and rights that we currently enjoy. It won't be possible for Parliament to review any of these repeals.

We are working to ensure something is written into the Bill to protect women's and key worker rights. Without it, many of us will be left extremely vulnerable.

Who are we fighting for?

Women in employment

Pregnant women at work: We know the European Union has been significant for developing and recognising rights for pregnant women at work. Previously, a pregnant woman would have needed to compare herself to a man to prove she was being treated less favourably. It was through the EU that pregnant women no longer needed this comparator to make a discrimination claim. Pregnant women also cannot be forced to do night shifts under European law.

Part-time workers: 42% of women work part-time, and they tend to do this for a longer period of time compared with men. EU law ensures part-time work pays the same per hour as people doing the same job full-time, and that you cannot be fired for trying to move between part-time and full-time work. Any erosion of those rights would critically affect women.

Working parents: A number of paternity rights and parental leave rights derive from the EU. Brexit could potentially result in losing them.

Women fleeing violence

Women fleeing across borders: European policy ensures that victims escaping violence are able to access basic provisions, and that restraining orders put on abusive partners apply across the whole of the EU. Those fleeing domestic violence across borders within the EU have a European Protection Order, which is recognised across the EU. There is no guarantee that this will continue to include the UK. We need assurances that existing levels of international cooperation will continue to protect women in the UK escaping all forms of violence, including FGM.

Women with insecure immigration status: A female migrant worker escaping violence in the UK would need to rely on the social security system, putting them in a weak position. We must ensure these vulnerable women are protected and safeguarded. If we don't, they almost certainly won't be.

Show your support

We have launched a Sex Discrimination Law Review, bringing together an incredible panel of experts to defend current legislative protections for women and equality. Read more about our Law Review here.

Our #FaceHerFuture campaign is all about charting a course for the future, and setting a progressive agenda for post-Brexit Britain. Find out how you can get involved here.

You can read our most recent briefing related to the European Union (Withdrawal) Bill second reading by clicking here.

It is now more crucial than ever to support organisations like The Fawcett Society, which are challenging some of the biggest injustices and inequalities in our society. Get behind us today by donating to our Law Review and joining as a member.