General News: Gender equality still an issue in the workplace, ombudsman reports

There are still significant obstacles to promoting equal treatment of men and women in the workplace, both in the public and private sectors, according to the Greek ombudsman's special report on gender equality in the workplace released on Thursday.

The report focused chiefly on gender equality issues relating to parental child-rearing leave in the public sector. This was chosen because of the large number of complaints received by the ombudsman and because the issue is receiving a lot of attention in Europe. The report called for a codification of the various systems regulating parental child-rearing leave, especially in services where it remained discriminatory toward men, to create a uniform system.

It also noted a sharp increase in complaints of discriminatory treatment in the private sector relating to pregnancy and maternity leave, which rose from 15 percent to 27 percent. The report said that cooperation between the ombudsman's office and labour inspectors had improved significantly, leading to a correction of the discriminatory behaviour, including reversal of dismissals and the imposition of fines on offending employers.

The ombudsman said implementation of a 2006 law on gender equality in employment was still lagging, with gender mainstreaming in public policy still in its infancy and neither public administration management nor civil courts fully acquainted with it.

Also lacking was reliable statistical data on discrimination issues, while there are still discriminatory terms in job descriptions for appointments and in procedures giving access to professional qualifications and training.

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