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Home > News > Supporting Trans employees in the workplace

Supporting Trans employees in the workplace

31 August 2017 | Cecily Donoghue

Cecily Donoghue, employment solicitor at Gregg Latchams’ Bristol office provides insight into a recent report by the Institute for Employment Studies (IES) on behalf of ACAS, on how gender identity is currently managed in UK workplaces and how it could be improved.

The IES interviewed a range of employers including Barclays, Asda, the Home Office, IBM, Macmillan and the Royal Navy who shared their experiences as employers, as well as individuals. The report provides a helpful set of definitions of the various terms of identity. However its investigations discovered a current lack of understanding, research and awareness of the differences between trans, intersex and non-binary identities in the workplace.

Line managers explained that they did not feel confident in supporting their trans or intersex employees and the report identifies a persisting stigma around trans issues in many work places. In terms of legislative protection, many of those interviewed were also concerned about the lack of protection under equality legislation for those who are not fully trans or intersex.

Recommendations included:

  • Policies and procedures – having an established policy which demonstrates support, knowledge and flexibility. It is important to demonstrate an understanding that a transition can be social and/or medical.
  • Raising awareness and achieving cultural change – often best achieved top down through senior staff and training sessions such as diversity workshops.
  • Ensuring managers are supportive and supported – via training and access to day to day support either from HR or their own manager.
  • External support – from trade unions or third party experts as well as referring individuals to knowledgeable Employee Assistance Programmes.
  • Flexibility – importance of recognising that each individual has their own journey and that it is therefore important to listen to them and ensure that policies are flexible to meet their individual needs.
  • Consider potentially physical barriers to inclusivity – individual toilet cubicles for all staff and/or allowing staff to use whichever facilities best align to their gender identity. Consider gender neutral uniforms.
  • Data and records – ensure that all records are updated if an individual transitions, be mindful of accidental disclosure of past identities and ensure that the individual has consented to any announcement to other colleagues. 
  • A consistent approach to inclusivity – having processes in place to respond to customers if applicable.
  • Review recruitment practices – remove titles and gender based information, incorporate inclusivity statements and links to diversity policies, and promote any connections with third party support groups on company websites.

The report concluded that although awareness is increasing, extensive work needs to be done to prevent bullying, negative treatment and misinformation in the workplace.

Employers often find themselves unprepared to assist a colleague or understand their gender identity concerns. Whilst the report provides guidance, it is a helpful reminder of the practices and processes which an employer could have in place to proactively demonstrate inclusivity and diversity.  

If your business requires advice on gender identity, or any other employment law matter, we recommend you speak to Cecily Donoghue, employment solicitor in our Bristol office.

A link to the report:

The contents of this article are intended for general information purposes only and shall not be deemed to be, or constitute legal advice. We cannot accept responsibility for any loss as a result of acts or omissions taken in respect of this article.

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