What issues do women workers face in the workplace?

Maternity leave

According to the Equality and Human Rights Commission, women returning from maternity leave are more likely to face discrimination in the workplace than they were a decade ago, with around 54,000 new mothers are losing their jobs across Britain every year – almost twice the number identified in similar research undertaken in 2005.


While the gender pay gap fell to 17.9% in 2018, women who work full time are still paid less than men. The Equal Pay Act came into force in 1975 but women’s work across industries is often still undervalued, underpaid and under recognised. GMB campaigns for equal pay across public and private sector employers. If you think you're being paid unfairly, contact your GMB region today.

Flexible Working

Women are still more likely to have caring responsibilities than men. Many still face difficulties caused by refusal of flexible working requests, for example to organise childcare. GMB supports the TUC's campaign for better rights to flexible working.

GMB members can learn more about rights to flexible working at our advice page.


Women workers make up 50% of the workforce and around seven in ten people of typical menopause age are in work. GMB members have spoken out about the number of problems people experiencing the menopause face in the workplace - including hot flushes, irregular heavy periods, anxiety and memory issues, sleep problems and joint and muscle pain. Whilst most employers still do not have policies to support workers experiencing the menopause, members can face disciplinary action as a result of triggering sickness absence policies, through no fault of their own.

GMB members and offices came together to tackle the problem with a major campaign - and now you can take the GMB model menopause policy to your employer and ask them to sign up.


Women workers are fighting for fair 'transitional relief' for women born in 1950s who are facing hardship and poverty because of the government increasing their state pension age without adequate notice. GMB supports the WASPI (Women against State Pension Inequality campaign.

Domestic Abuse

Women are disproportionally affected by domestic abuse, with one in four women experiencing domestic abuse in their adult life. Domestic abuse has a devastating impact on individuals and their families. People experiencing domestic abuse are often subject to disciplinary action or job losses, often through no fault of their own. GMB activists campaign around the impact of domestic abuse at work with our Domestic Abuse Charter.

Public Sector Cuts

65% of public service workers are women, and almost a quarter of all working women are employed in the public sector. Public sector cuts have a major impact on women workers and even more so on Black, Asian and minority ethnic women workers.

Women workers are not only more like to lose their jobs under austerity, but also to lose vital services and social security payments, as on average, one fifth of women workers’ income is made up of benefits in comparison to one tenth of men’s.


In 2018 only 23.7% of Chief Executives and senior officials were women. It is said there are more chief executives called Steve or Dave who head up companies than women or Black, Asian and minority ethnic workers.

Women are still more likely to be in lower paid, less secure and part time work.

Sexual Harrassment

1 in 2 women have been sexually harassed at work but 4 out of 5 feeling unable to raise it at work. GMB supports the TUC's campaign for government to make it law for employers to protect against sexual harrassment by 'third parties' - like clients and customers - in the workplace.

The government has now committed to doing this - but we'll keep applying the pressure until it happens.

Join us and become a GMB
member today.