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Why women are better off in Europe

Only a vote to Remain will protect women’s rights writes Daisy Page


The fact is that we risk jeopardising women’s rights if we vote to leave the European Union (EU) on 23 June 2016.

A recent TUC report concluded that British membership of the European Union has been instrumental in empowering working women and enabling them to challenge unequal pay and inequality at work.

New analysis by Labour IN shows that in the course of the working week a woman in an EU-OECD country earns, on average, almost £170 closer to her male counterpart than a woman living in a wealthy country outside the EU. 

 Our membership of the EU has brought greater workplace protection for British women:

  • ·     Legal right to equal pay. It is a founding principle of the EU and has been in the Treaties since 1957 (now art. 157 TFEU). In 1984 the UK government was forced to include equal pay for work of equal value in the Equal Pay Act, benefiting many women workers.
  • ·     Guaranteed rights for part time and flexible workers. There are 6.2 million women working part-time in the UK. It doesn’t matter if you are full-time or part-time, temporary or permanent, in-house or agency, all workers get the same rights, including access to pensions.
  • ·     Paid maternity leave and the right to return to work without loss of position or pay. Provides for a minimum maternity leave period for employees of 14 weeks and for a minimum payment during this leave. The maternity provisions in the UK (52 weeks) are more generous than the minimum requirements of this directive.
  • ·         Protection from gender-based discrimination and harassment. The Equal Treatment Directive guarantees equal treatment of women and men in the labour market (including selection criteria). It requires member states to prohibit any discrimination -direct or indirect - on grounds of gender. This includes reference to family or marital status, pregnancy and maternity, harassment, and instructions to discriminate. It also protects workers who make a complaint relating to equal treatment from victimisation.


So as you have read, women benefit directly from these achievements in many different ways every day.  However, these developments would be at risk if we vote to leave the European Union in June.  The current government could pick and choose which rights to water down or scrap altogether. Given their past record on women’s equality that is a frightening prospect.

Women rights are more secure in Europe; women are safer in Europe: we are more prosperous in Europe; and our future, and that of our children and grandchildren, is stronger in Europe.


Cllr Daisy Page is Deputy Leader of Dartford Labour Group

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