With all the political shenanigans over the last couple of months, it is easy to forget that not everything has changed. If matters proceed as planned the Equalities Act 2010 will come into force this October. Though there is currently some discussion as to whether the new Government will go through with all or any of the Act, it is always good to be prepared.
The Act’s purpose is to simplify legislation by bringing together many disparate parts into one place. The idea being, to make it easy for everyone to know what their rights are. But is this all it does, or does it take the law any further?
Should the Act survive in its current form, then there will be a sea change in both the law and the way you have to do business. For example, it brings to the fore the question of positive discrimination. This is where, as an employer you would be able to employ one person rather than another, so long as they are from a group with a perceived disadvantage. For instance if you have 2 people going for the same job, and they are both equally qualified and interview as well as each other. However, if one is disabled in some way then you would be able to employ the disabled person on the grounds that disabled people are poorly represented in the workplace. Such positive discrimination is permitted but not required, in these circumstances.
What relevance does this have to you? Is there anything for you to worry about?
It could be that the Act as a whole is punted into the long grass and forgotten over time, or certain sections of the Act could be dropped.
Even if it does become law, it is arguable that the section on positive discrimination would, like much legislation, be seen as a good idea, but be impossible to enforce.
Or it could be that it does what the original intention was and enshrines the idea of positive discrimination into English law.
Whatever happens, it is it is important that you ensure that your disciplinary and grievance procedures, contracts of employment and recruitment procedures are up to date, so that if any changes arise, you have taken them into account in all your business documentation.
If you would like to talk through these issues then please do not hesitate to firstname.lastname@example.org