The Equality Act is now law

The Equality Act is now law
Tuesday, 05 October 2010 15:27

The Equality Act became law on 1 October this year.  It replaces and consolidates previous legislation including the Race Relations Act 1976 and the Disability Discrimination Act 1995. It aims to ensure that there is a consistent framework and guidance covering what you need to do to make your workplace a fair environment and to comply with the law.

The Equality Act covers the same groups that were protected by existing equality legislation

  • age
  • disability
  • gender reassignment
  • race
  • religion or belief
  • sex
  • sexual orientation
  • marriage and civil partnership
  • pregnancy and maternity

It also extends some protections to groups not previously covered, and also strengthens particular aspects of equality law.

Guidance for Employers

The Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) have provided further guidance documents to their website to help explain the Equality Act.  It provides easy to read excellent 'good practice' advice and examples on how the law change will impact employers and is laid out in the following categories:

What equality law means for you as an employer:

Good equality practice for employers:

Codes of practice

The EHRC has also published three draft codes of practice. The Codes have been prepared in consultation with stakeholders and were laid before Parliament on 12 October 2010. The codes remain in draft form until such time as they have laid before Parliament for forty days without objection and the Government makes the Order bringing them into force.

You can view copies of the codes as laid before Parliament below.

Code of Practice on Equal Pay 
Code of Practice on Employment
Code of Practice on Services, Public Functions and Associations

Secrecy clause

One area of the Equality Act that has created discussion is secrecy clauses or 'gagging clauses' as they are often called.  The Act introduces limits to the enforceability of these clauses that some employers use to restrict discussions about pay packages and differentials.  Restricting use of these clauses is intended to promote openness and dialogue about pay and bring an end to opaque pay structures.  Research conducted by the IPP shows that one in six employees admit that they would take a sneaky look at a colleague's payslip if no one was looking!

Discrimination Forms

The government has published new forms that employees can use to obtain information from their employer if they think they have been treated unlawfully under the Equality Act 2010.

Employees who think that their employer has discriminated against, harassed or victimised them, or believe that they have not received equal pay, can send this form to their employer to obtain further information about their treatment.

The forms, which replace individual discrimination questionnaires, aim to help employees understand why they were treated in a particular way and whether or not they have grounds to make a claim.

Article courtesy of our friends at the Institute of Payroll Professionals IPP

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