The consultation for the Single Equality Bill seems to be over. Harriet Harman, Minister for Equality and Women recently revealed the draft Bill, which will be implemented in this autumn’s Queen’s Speech.
Unfortunately, there is no positive action. Yes, I’m a big fan of women’s rights to equality, but allowing employers to recruit on the basis of gender or any other non-relevant-to-the-job criteria really doesn’t do much to support the cause. I want to be hired because I’m good and not because the company has a few brunettes less than five feet tall.
The Equality Bill has many other positive aspects, including the stuff about equal pay that aims to close gender pay gaps. I like the idea of banning “gagging clauses” that prevent employees from comparing wages. This topic was recently covered by The Guardian.
The Bill’s remainder covers:
Public authorities are required to address discrimination and promote equality for all races, genders, and disabilities. This extension extends the existing requirement to include gender reassignment and sexual orientation.
Unjustifiable age discrimination should be banned. Don’t we already have this? I didn’t realize we were so behind as a society. It’s my hope that it works for young people, who also face a lot age discrimination.
Transparency will be increased by requiring public agencies to report on gender pay and ethnic minority employment. Publication of evidence about the effectiveness of equal pay audits in closing gender pay gaps will bring transparency to the private sector.
To strengthen enforcement, tribunals can make more recommendations in discrimination cases to ensure that there are benefits for all employees of the accused employer.
This Bill will apparently “declutter” 40+ years of discrimination law in nine pieces of legislation as well as statutory rules and regulations and statutory codes. Whatever. I want to see the actual changes. I imagine that the public sector will have their HR departments overwhelmed by managing the changes in legislation, while the private sector will continue as before until someone files a complaint. A new law won’t change how people behave, but it will make it more likely that they are successful in court against their employer for treating them badly.