Monday 27 April 2009

Equality Bill Published

The long-awaited Equality Bill was published this morning. The Bill is intended to combine all of the existing legislation on discrimination into one single statute. Whilst it will inevitably be subjected to considerable debate in committee, the first draft can be seen here.

The Bill contains a mere 205 clauses (plus 28 Schedules for those with a penchant for self-flagellation). Since the chances of me reading it before it becomes law are nil, I'm instead going to rely on various press releases from some very impressive firms of solicitors to point out that the Bill:-
  • allows positive discrimination during recruitment in favour of disadvantaged groups when faced with candidates who are otherwise equally qualified
  • reverses Malcolm v London Borough of Lewisham, and abolishes the list of areas in which a disability must impact (eg mobility, manual dexterity, memory or ability to learn, concentrate or understand etc.)
  • contains a clause allowing the Secretary of State to order employers with more than 250 employees to publish information about disparities in pay between male and female employees - although apparently the government has anounced that this power will not be exercised in the next four years
  • outlaws any clauses in employment contracts which impose a secrecy obligation stopping employees discussing their pay packages
  • introduces a new duty for some key public bodies to pay due regard to socio-economic disadvantage in making strategic decisions, and extends public sector duties to ensure equality to age discrimination
  • gives effect to recent European caselaw by outlawing discrimination by association

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