Archive for the '2010 Articles' Category
28 February 2010
In October 2010, the Equality Bill is scheduled to become law in the UK. It’ s the biggest single biggest piece of employment legislation that the UK will face this year. The Bill is designed to ensure that everybody is adequately protected against discrimination.
A socio-economic duty to reduce inequality
The Bill will consolidate existing legislation on sex, race, disability, sexual orientation, religion or belief and age. If not followed or prepared for properly, it could result in significant costs for organisations. The Equalities Office is estimating that its implementation is likely to cost somewhere in the region of £310million mainly as a result of extra tribunal and court cases.
Speaking of a link to bullying and harassment, and the events of the last week, the focus of the new Bill will be on ‘preventing unwanted conduct which has the purpose or effect of violating a persons’ dignity or creating a hostile environment’. The emphasis is on the concept of prevention and the steps an organisation takes to help prevention. Organisations will be compelled to recognise their socio-economic duty to reduce inequality.
The Bill will include a new term of ‘protected characteristic’ – a protected characteristic being sex, race, age, and religious belief etc. Conduct which is ‘related to’ a protected characteristic will be also be covered. For example it will protect an employee from being harassed because of their association with someone – such as having a relative who is a homosexual or of a certain race.
The Bill is also designed to increase transparency about pay. Organisations in the private sector with more than 250 employees will be required to publish information on differences in pay between male and female employees (from 2013). The public sector will be required to publish pay gap reports too. The public sector will also be forced to consider equality when deciding on purchasing or outsourcing.
In recruitment, an employer will be able to take a ‘protected characteristic’ into account. For example, where a male and female applicant are considered as having equal skills and experience, the female could be appointed where there is female under representation. This is in effect, positive action.
Employment tribunals will have new powers to make recommendations that will have to be applied to the whole workforce. For example, if a former employee wins a case for being discriminated against, the organisation could be ordered to provide training in equality and diversity management for all managers.
The Bill is far reaching. Even the Pope has had something to say about it!
What can you do now?
- Ensure your equality and diversity policies are compliant – carry out Equality Impact Assessments
- Deliver staff briefing sessions on the changing legislation
- Deliver one day courses on ‘Equality & Diversity – how to manage difference’
- Run training sessions on the prevention of bullying and harassment
- Deliver training sessions on managing difficult conversations
- Set up an in-house mediation scheme
For more information about the Equality Bill visit:
Director – Globis