Equality Bill becomes law
The Equality Bill cleared Parliament this week, and is now law (although many parts of the Act will only come into force at a later time).
Summary of the Bill
The Bill harmonises most current equality legislation, while also extending existing discrimination laws, including the ‘protected characteristics’ of age, disability, gender reassignment, marriage and civil partnership, pregnancy and maternity, race, religion or belief, sex, and sexual orientation. It will also address the impact of recent case law which is generally seen as having weakened discrimination protection, and harmonise provisions defining indirect discrimination.
- Provides powers to extend age discrimination protection outside the workplace
- Clarifies protection against discrimination by association, for example in relation to a mother who cares for her disabled child
- Extends protection from discrimination on the grounds of gender reassignment to school pupils
- Extends discrimination protection in the terms of membership and benefits for private clubs and associations
- Creates a unified public sector duty, intended to promote equality in public policy and decision-making, existing provisions being extended to the protected characteristics of sexual orientation, age and religion or belief, and proposes a new public sector duty related to socio-economic inequalities
- Provides for legislation requiring that employers review gender pay differences within their organisations and publish the results
- Provides for changes to the way that individual claims are enforced, and gives employment tribunals wider powers to make recommendations for the collective benefit of employees
- Allows a Minister to amend UK equality legislation to comply with European law without the need for primary legislation
- Extends the period for which all-women shortlists may be used for parliamentary and other elections until 2030 and allows parties to reserve places on shortlists of candidates for people on the grounds of race or disability.