Presentation on theme: "Laura Prince. Bill published on 27 th April 2009. Completed Commons Committee stage on 7 th July 2009. Report stage in House of Commons, October."— Presentation transcript:
Bill published on 27 th April 2009. Completed Commons Committee stage on 7 th July 2009. Report stage in House of Commons, October 2009. Third reading. Second reading in House of Lords. All stages need to be concluded by March/April 2010 otherwise the Bill may never become an Act. Assuming the Bill is passed the majority of it is expected to come into force in Autumn 2010.
To simplify and harmonise current discrimination law. The Bill prohibits discrimination “because of” any of the “Protected Characteristics”:- ◦ Age ◦ Disability ◦ Gender reassignment ◦ Marriage and civil partnerships ◦ Pregnancy and maternity ◦ Race ◦ Religion or belief ◦ Sex ◦ Sexual orientation. To extend duties on certain public authorities.
New public sector duty to consider reducing socio-economic disadvantages, extending the equality duty on public bodies to cover all strands of discrimination and using public procurement to improve equality. Bringing in Gender Pay Reports, banning secrecy clauses on pay and extending the scope to use positive action. Increasing the powers of Employment Tribunals – the Equality Bill will allow Tribunals to make recommendations in discrimination cases which benefit the whole of the workforce. Protection for those associated with people with a ‘protected characteristic’ from discrimination and also those who are “perceived” to have a ‘protected characteristic’. Strengthening protection from discrimination disabled people.
The concept of ‘dual discrimination’ has been added to the Bill, but could be amended to protect employees from ‘multiple discrimination’. Representative actions are not currently covered but could be useful, particularly in equal pay cases. The definition of discrimination arising from disability needs to be looked at carefully to ensure it has the intended effect. The use of hypothetical comparators in equal pay claims are likely to be considered further. Anonymous job application forms have been discussed during committee stage.
“ It’s 30 years since sex equality legislation was introduced, but it’s simply not effective any more ” (Kate Bellamy, Senior Policy Officer at the Fawcett Society and co-author of the report). The gender pay gap in the UK is the worst in Europe. Women working full-time earn on average 17% less per hour than men and women working part-time earn 37% less per hour than men working full time. The average hourly wage for female workers prior to having children is 91% of the male average but declines to 67% for working mothers with young children. 30,000 pregnant women are unlawfully forced out of their jobs each year “ The single biggest cause of the gender pay gap is discrimination, yet equal pay law is failing to prevent discrimination or provide effective redress where it occurs” (Fawcett and UNISON submission to the Equality Bill Committee)
Equality Bill ProvisionsEHRC Pay SecrecyInquiry into financial services sector – reported September 2009 Requirement to publish gender pay gap information The Equality and Human Rights Commission’s inquiry into the financial services sector has revealed gender pay gaps of up to 60% in annual gross pay and as much as 79% in annual incentive (bonus) pay. Positive action permitted in recruitment and promotion Consultation on improving gender equality
Research by the former Equal Opportunities Commission showed that 22% of employers did not permit employees to share pay information with their colleagues. Clause 72 introduces new protection for employees who talk about their pay. Employers will not be able to enforce contract terms that try to stop employees discussing pay terms with their colleagues. Discussions about pay in the context of discrimination will be treated as a protected act for the purposes of a victimisation claim.
Clause 155 allows employers to positively discriminate in recruitment and promotion in favour of anyone from an under-represented group. Limited to situations where the employer reasonably thinks that someone with a protected characteristic suffers a disadvantage or whose participation in the workforce is disproportionately low. Employers can only choose an under-represented candidate if they are “as qualified” (which is not defined) as the other candidate; and they do not have a policy of treating those with a protected characteristic more favourably in recruitment and promotion.
Clause 73 gives the power for regulations to be made to require particular employers to publish data relating to men and women’s pay for the purposes of establishing the existence or extent of any gender pay gap once every 12 months. This should help make our workplaces more transparent. The Government has committed not to use this power until 2013 and only then if insufficient voluntary progress is made. At present this would cover employers who employ more than 250 people.