Presentation on theme: "THE EQUALITY ACT 2010 Modernising equality law or a step too far?"— Presentation transcript:
THE EQUALITY ACT 2010 Modernising equality law or a step too far?
This presentation looks at Why the 2010 Equality Act was introduced The main features of the 2010 Equality Act Some of the controversies over the 2010 Equality Act
We have an Equality Act because the UK remains an unequal and divided nation
THE NEW EQUALITY ACT The Equality Act came into force in October 2010. The Equality Act 2010 brings all existing equalities legislation on gender and race (as well as age, disability, sexual orientation and religion) up to date and under one new law. It was felt that the old laws could be confusing and it would be better to have one law which covers all possible forms of unequal treatment. One Law Covering All Forms of Discrimination
Supporting the Equality Act 2010 is the Equalities and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) which replaced the old Equal Opportunities Commission (EOC) and the Commission for Racial Equality (CRE) in 2008. THE EHRC How fair is Britain?
UNEQUAL UK: GENDER Gender inequalities remain. The 2011 Sex and Power index showed that progress towards gender equality remains slow. While women are doing better in education, health and the legal profession, the Glass Ceiling remains very strong in some areas.
UNEQUAL UK: RACE The 2009 Race for Opportunity Report showed that BME workers make up 10.3% of the population but only 8.5% of the workforce and just 6.3% of those in management positions. The trade union Unite claims there is a 15% gap between the employment rates of black, Asian and ethnic minority workers and their white colleagues. In 2009, almost 6,000 race discrimination cases were heard by employment tribunals. EHRC Race in Britain
UNEQUAL UK: SOCIAL CLASS Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg has raised the issue of how few children from poor backgrounds go on to university. In 2011, St Andrews University, which teaches a total of 7,370 undergraduates, admitted only 13 students from Scotland’s poorest 20% of postcode districts. Edinburgh and Aberdeen Universities also recruited fewer than 100 students from these ‘SIMD 20’ districts. Nick Clegg pledges to improve social mobility
MAIN FEATURES OF THE ACT Stayed the same The Equality Act 2010 incorporates over 100 separate pieces of equalities legislation. Rights and Responsibilities have either: Direct discrimination still occurs when "someone is treated less favourably than another person because of a protected characteristic"
MAIN FEATURES OF THE ACT Changed for example, employees are now be able to complain of harassment even if it is not directed at them, if they can demonstrate that it creates an offensive environment for them
MAIN FEATURES OF THE ACT Been extended associative discrimination (direct discrimination against someone because they associate with another person who possesses a protected characteristic) covers age, disability, gender reassignment and sex as well as race, religion and belief and sexual orientation.
MAIN FEATURES OF THE ACT Been introduced for the first time Employers can favour under-represented groups during the recruitment process – provided the candidates are of equal suitability – to increase the diversity of their workforces. This is comparable to some of the affirmative action programmes to be found in the USA.
The Equality Act makes it unlawful to discriminate (treat less favourably) anyone directly or indirectly because of a protected characteristic. The nine protected characteristics are 1.age 2.disability 3.gender reassignment 4.marriage and civil partnership 5.pregnancy and maternity 6.race (a group of people defined by their race, colour and nationality (including citizenship) ethnic or national origins 7.religion or belief (including lack of belief e.g. atheism) 8.gender 9.sexual orientation WHAT ARE THE PROTECTED CHARACTERISTICS?
discrimination THE 2010 EQUALITY ACT ATTEMPTS TO ELIMINATE harassment victimisation
Direct discrimination where someone is treated less favourably than another person because of a protected characteristic.
Associative discrimination this is direct discrimination against someone because they are associated with another person who possesses a protected characteristic
Discrimination by perception this is direct discrimination against someone because others think that they possess a particular protected characteristic. They do not necessarily have to possess the characteristic, just be perceived to
Indirect discrimination this can occur when an organisation has a rule or policy that applies to everyone but disadvantages a person with a particular protected characteristic
Harassment this is behaviour that is deemed offensive by the recipient. Employees can now complain of the behaviour they find offensive even if it is not directed at them
Harassment by a third party employers are potentially liable for the harassment of their staff or customers by people they don't themselves employ, i.e. a contractor
Victimisation this occurs when someone is treated badly because they have made or supported a complaint or grievance under this legislation
PAY SECRECY BANNED The Equality Act prevents employers from enforcing “pay secrecy clauses” on their workers which prevent them disclosing their salaries over issues of unfair treatment. But, the Coalition Government scrapped Labour’s proposals to force employers to publish how much they pay men compared with women. Organisations may choose to provide this information, but it is entirely voluntary. This has been severely criticised by the Fawcett Society, amongst others, which believes weakens efforts to close the gender pay gap.
NO NEED TO TAKE INTO ACCOUNT SOCIO/ECONOMIC DISADVANTAGE When the Equality Act was first drafted by Labour, there was an intention to make public authorities consider how their decisions might help reduce social/economic inequalities. The Coalition Government, however, has decided not to implement this proposal. The SNP Scottish Government has, as part of the Concordat agreement, asked Scottish local authorities to consider social/economic disadvantage when planning and providing services.
POSITIVE ACTION ON RACE OR GENDER Employers are now able to take “positive action” in order to minimise disadvantage by people who share a protected characteristic e.g. gender or race. This could be to reduce their under-representation relating to particular activities or their particular needs. It means targeting assistance to people, not giving them a job just because of their gender or race. But, if an employer has two candidates of equal merit, it can choose one on the basis of their protected characteristic in order to create a more representative workforce.
POLITICAL PARTIES Women and ethnic minorities are under-represented in politics. The Equality Act allows political parties to address under- representation by, for example, encouraging those with protected characteristics to come forward. Sexism and UK Politics
PRIVATE MEMBERS’ CLUBS It is now unlawful for a private members’ club to refuse membership to a potential member, or grant it on less favourable terms because of a protected characteristic. The world-famous St Andrew’s Golf Club, home of the fabled Old Course, has been male only since 1843. It is now looking at ways in which it can comply with the Equality Act by admitting women and giving them the same rights as male members.
SAME SEX MARRIAGE The Equality Act allows a religious organisation the power, if it wishes, to marry a same sex couple on its premises. In July 2012 the Scottish Government announced it would legislate to allow same sex couples to marry. But it would not force religious organisations to marry same sex couple if they oppose same sex marriage. Scotland Approves Same Sex Marriage
A BOX-TICKER’S CHARTER? The Equality Act brings significant costs in training personnel departments and the bureaucracy of implementing equalities audits. The private sector estimated that £211m was spent in the first year to comply. Does this represent the best use of scarce resources at a time of scarce resources? “This is money that firms can ill afford at present” Alistair Tebbit, Institute of Directors.
FOR SOME, THE ACT DOESN’T GO FAR ENOUGH Wealth inequalities continue to increase. Is it possible to eradicate class inequalities by focusing on equal treatment? Does there not have to be more fundamental equality of opportunities in health, education and housing to enable the poorer to compete in the first place? Is meeting targets to reduce poverty not a more urgent priority?
BUT, FOR OTHERS, IT DOES There have been accusations of “political correctness gone mad.” It is claimed that the Equality Act represents discrimination against white, able bodied, straight men. Newspapers such as the Daily Express would like to see the EHRC abolished and probably the Equality Act too! “The Bill is all about politically correct extremism and trendy, left-wing prejudices.” Philip Davies MP