The gendered impacts of Covid-19 intersect with other characteristics such as age, ethnicity, disability, class and migration status. This results in different effects for different groups of women. Single mothers are particularly affected as their economic position is often more disadvantaged and, in some cases, financially precarious as they rely on one source of income. Migrant women who have lost their jobs and are subject to the no recourse to public funds condition will be unable to access the benefits system. This leaves these women and their families without the means to cover their housing costs or to feed their families. It puts them at risk of being in poverty.
Many unions have removed restrictions around membership joining and are providing legal support from the day of joining. Join a union today.
Employees whose work is critical to the coronavirus response are classed as critical workers in Wales. This includes health and social care workers, teachers, people working in supermarkets and many more occupations. There are approximately 490,000 critical workers in Wales, which is around one-third of the workforce. Women are more likely to be critical workers than men. 40% of all women in employment in Wales are critical workers, compared to 28% of men.
In Wales, women and those from a minority ethnic background are the groups of workers, most likely to be employed within occupations that have the highest risk.
Within some ethnic groups there are an even higher proportion of women. Around two thirds (66%) of critical workers of an Asian background other than Indian, Pakistani, Bangladeshi and Chinese were women.
The Welsh Government published guidance in March 2020 on the types of businesses that should remain closed during the initial stages of the coronavirus pandemic. Business such as pubs, restaurants and leisure centres were included.
Around 230,000 people were employed in industries in Wales in 2019 that were told to close after the initial coronavirus pandemic, representing around 16% of the total workforce. Women, young people and employees from a minority ethnic background are more likely to be employed in those industries.
There were more women (55%) than men (44%) working in industries told to close. That equates to 18% of all female employees in Wales compared to 14% of all male employees.
Younger women workers (those under 25) make up 12% of all women employees in Wales, but 28% of all those in industries told to close.
In Wales, self-employed people are more likely to be male.
Section 44 of the Employment Rights Act 1996 provides workers with the right to withdraw from and refuse to return to a workplace that is unsafe.
There have been several examples of union branches walking off the job citing this law.
If you feel your workplace is unsafe due to Covid-19, you should contact your union's legal team for urgent advice.
The Equality Act 2010 is the key piece of legislation dealing with workplace discrimination. It protects workers from discrimination based on age, sex, disability, race, religion or belief, sexual orientation, marriage or civil partnership status, pregnancy or maternity, or gender reassignment.
Union representatives have a key role to play in:
• promoting equal rights for all members. Reps can negotiate with employers for policies and procedures that advance equality and do not lead to one group being disproportionately disadvantaged
• creating a supportive atmosphere at work and in the union in which all members feel that they can participate and that their opinions are valued
• challenging instances of harassment and discrimination and ensuring complaints are dealt with effectively
• acting as a role model in treating everyone fairly.
For more information on how the Equality Act can protect workers visit our Covid-19 and reasonable adjustments guide for reps.
Read about how to negotiate with employers and to protect the workforce in our coronavirus reps guide.
Are you worried about not being able to stay safe from coronavirus at your workplace? Please tell us your experiences using our whistle blowing form.
We will anonymously share the information about your health and safety concern with Welsh Government and the Health & Safety Executive (HSE). If you tell us it’s OK to pass on your details, we will also report the issue to your trade union for you.
Unions help workers get together, stop people being treated unfairly and get a better deal from their employers.
They’re there when times are tough – providing free legal advice if you need it. There are lots of discounts and offers for union members too. And every year they help more than 200,000 people get the training and learning opportunities they need to move on in their career.
Isn’t it time you joined a union?