Then and now: seventy years of change for workers

During Elizabeth II’s reign the world changed almost beyond recognition. Her Majesty lived through the moon landing, the fall of the Berlin Wall and the invention of the smartphone to name just a few.

So too has the world changed for workers. New rights legislation alongside emerging technologies and increased automation has shaped the world of work, making it unrecognisable from when Her Majesty first took the throne in 1952.

As we look back on Her Majesty’s reign, here are some of the key moments of change and legalisation that took place whilst she was on the throne ⬇️

1970 – Equal Pay Act

The Equal Pay Act 1970 is an attempt to equalise pay between men and women. It prohibits any less favourable treatment between men and women in terms of pay and conditions of employment. It has now been superseded by the Equality Act 2010.

1974 – Health and Safety at Work Act

You can trace the introduction of this important piece of legislation back almost 100 years to the factory act. However, it is argued that the Aberfan disaster where 166 children and 28 adults were killed as a result of the collapse of a colliery spoil tip, brought forward the regulations.

1980s and 1990s – Deindustrialisation

Community members in steel, footwear and textiles faced large scale deindustrialisation.

1998 – Minimum Wage Act

The government bring in the National Minimum Wage Act and implement the EU Working Time Regulations. These changes meant workers could not be paid below a national standard and were guaranteed four weeks annual leave.

2001 – Extension of maternity leave

The government extended maternity leave to 26 weeks and increased maternity pay to £100 a week.

2010 – Equality Act

The Labour government brings in the Equality Act. The Equality Act made it illegal for anyone to be discriminated against because of a ‘protected characteristic’. The protected characteristics are; age, gender reassignment, being married or in a civil partnership, being pregnant or on maternity leave, disability, race including colour, nationality, ethnic or national origin, religion or belief, sex and sexual orientation.

If you are a member of Community and need help or advice, please contact us at or on 0800 389 6332.

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