Jersey must improve maternity rights and introduce the draft Sex Discrimination Law to bring balance to the workplace for women, according to one of Jersey’s top lawyers.
Former Law Society president Tim Hanson says that gaps in the current workplace legislation forces women to choose between having a career and having children. With elections less than six months away, he is trying to raise the profile of the issue of workplace rights for women.
Outgoing Social Security Minister Francis Le Gresley is committed to strengthening anti-discrimination legislation before he bows out of the States at the end of the year, but the law has been delayed for many years.
Advocate Hanson – a founding partner at law firm Hanson Renouf – cited the lack of female lawyers at the very top of the profession as an example of the impact of the gaps in legislation. He says that despite the fact that women make up 51% of the population and 41% of the Law Society’s 324-strong members list, there has never been a female Bailiff, Deputy Bailiff or Attorney General.
He said: “There ought to be more active efforts to identify and encourage aspiring female lawyers to senior legal posts including that of Bailiff or Deputy Bailiff – that would only be fair as men have had the head start until women were finally allowed a foot in the door in the 20th century, but ultimately selection has to be on merit alone.
“Maternity rights need to be more generous in Jersey so that women who have children do not have, in effect, to choose between a career and motherhood. I understand a Scrutiny Panel is looking at this issue now.”
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