Women employed by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) could face disciplinary repercussions if they object to transgender colleagues using single-sex facilities, according to documents obtained by The Sunday Telegraph.

The leaked cache of HR policies, internal communications, and intranet posts has reignited debate over transgender rights in the workplace.

Critics have alleged that the ONS has fallen victim to “institutional capture” by trans activists, with concerns raised over the handling of gender identity issues.

This controversy follows previous criticisms directed at the ONS, including claims that it may have overestimated the number of transgender individuals in the census due to a poorly phrased question.

ONS’ support for transitioning employees

The leaked documents include resources on “Gender Identity and Transitioning at Work,” outlining procedures for supporting transitioning employees. Notably, a manager’s checklist suggests that objections to sharing facilities with transitioning colleagues should be addressed through communication and education. However, persistent objections could lead to grievance or disciplinary procedures.

Under the ONS’s policy introduced in 2018, transitioning employees have the autonomy to decide when to use single-sex facilities aligned with their acquired gender. Additionally, the policy emphasises that transitioning employees should not be compelled to use disabled facilities.

Critics, including the gender-critical campaign group Sex Matters, have denounced the ONS’s policies, accusing the organisation of disregarding the concerns of other employees. The group highlights discrepancies between the ONS’s policies and transgender guidance being developed for the Civil Service.

Destructing information regarding their previous gender

Of particular concern is the requirement for the destruction of all information regarding an employee’s previous gender following their transition, which Sex Matters argues could impact managerial oversight and accountability.

The controversy surrounding the ONS’s policies extends to its handling of transgender identities in historical contexts. Leaked posts from the ONS intranet suggest an emphasis on transgender identities over historical accuracy, drawing criticism from sceptics.

In response to the allegations, Fiona McAnena, Director of Campaigns at Sex Matters, criticised the leaked documents as “inaccurate, ideologically driven, and inflammatory,” indicative of “institutional capture” within the national statistics body.

While the ONS asserts its commitment to an inclusive working environment, it has faced scrutiny over its handling of transgender issues. However, the organisation maintains that it has not received any formal complaints regarding its policies.

The controversy surrounding the ONS’s approach to transgender rights underscores the ongoing societal debate over gender identity and workplace accommodations.





Amelia Brand is the Editor for HRreview, and host of the HR in Review podcast series. With a Master’s degree in Legal and Political Theory, her particular interests within HR include employment law, DE&I, and wellbeing within the workplace. Prior to working with HRreview, Amelia was Sub-Editor of a magazine, and Editor of the Environmental Justice Project at University College London, writing and overseeing articles into UCL’s weekly newsletter. Her previous academic work has focused on philosophy, politics and law, with a special focus on how artificial intelligence will feature in the future.