United Kingdom

Adopt the Domestic Abuse Bill

The UK will adopt landmark legislation on domestic abuse, aimed at supporting victims and their families and bringing offenders to justice. The Domestic Abuse Bill will also help to allow the UK to ratify the Istanbul Convention, as per the recommendation of the Gender Equality Advisory Council.

The Domestic Abuse Bill and accompanying package of non-legislative action follows a consultation that the UK held in 2018. The Domestic Abuse Bill was introduced to Parliament in July 2019.

To help tackle the crime, measures in the Bill include:

  • Introducing a statutory Government definition of domestic abuse, including economic abuse;
  • Establishing a Domestic Abuse Commissioner to champion victims and survivors;
  • Introducing new Domestic Abuse Protection Notices and Domestic Abuse Protection Orders;
  • Prohibiting the cross-examination of victims by their abusers in family courts; and
  • Placing the guidance supporting the Domestic Violence Disclosure Scheme (Clare’s Law) on statutory footing

Reform the parental leave offer

The UK will reform its parental leave offer to help parents better balance the gender division of parental leave and pay. This will build on the success of Shared Parental Leave, which allows mothers in the UK to transfer their leave to fathers, and will advance women’s economicempowerment.The UK currently has the longest maternity leave of all OECD countries, but paternity leave is six weeks shorter than the OECD average. The UK is currently consulting on a range of high level options for reforming the current system of parental leave.

Strengthen protections from sexual harassment in the workplace

The UK will strengthen protections from sexual harassment in the workplace. Although sexual harassment has been against the law for decades, recent reports – including those of the #metoo movement – show there is still more to do.We have recently consulted on proposals to improve the regulation of Non-Disclosure Agreements (NDAs).

These include:

  • Legislating to protect all disclosures to the police, health and legal professionals;
  • Legislating to set out the limits of NDAs in the agreements themselves; and
  • New enforcement measures for NDAs that do not comply with legal requirements

In addition, we are now consulting on more general improvements to the legal protections from sexual harassment. These include:

  • A proactive duty on employers to take steps to prevent sexual harassment;
  • Strengthening the law to give explicit protections against third party harassment; and
  • Extending workplace protections to volunteers and interns.