Background to the Equality Bill
August 1st, 2010
The Equality Bill, introduced to the House of Commons on 24 April 2009, aims to ‘harmonise discrimination law, and to strengthen the law to support progress on equality’ and will replace all existing legislation, including the Equal Pay Act.
In order to achieve this, there are a number of key areas that the Bill seeks to strengthen. Firstly, establishing a general public duty is important. HEIs will have to consider how their policies, programmes and service delivery will affect people with the protected characteristics – with similar assessments to the Disability Discrimination Act. Secondly, the Bill will also seek to extend the range of lawful positive action, extend the circumstance in which a person is protected against discrimination, harassment or victimisation and thirdly, the Bill will allow employment tribunals to make recommendations to employers.
The most important aspect is to protect people that fall into the protected characteristics category. These include age, disability discrimination, gender, marriage and civil partnership, pregnancy and maternity, religion, sex and timescale.
The Bill is expected to receive Royal Assent in spring 2010 and the majority of the Bill is expected to come into force in autumn 2010, with the general public duty following in 2011.
The Government Equalities Office website states that “the Government is committed to creating a fair society with fair chances for everyone. For this to be achieved, people must have the chance to live their lives freely and fulfill their potential. Inequality and discrimination are at the heart of this problem”.
Inclusion continues to back the Equalities Bill; for more information visit www.inclusion.me.uk
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