Equality Under the Law

by Kidd Rapinet on August 5, 2008

There have been a number of recent changes in the area of equality and the law. A new Equality Bill will ensure Government bodies avoid sex discrimination. The bill will:

  • impose a duty on public bodies to ban discrimination on grounds of age, sexual orientation or religion;
  • require public bodies to use their £160bn purchasing power to award more contracts to companies with a good equality record;
  • allow companies to recruit more women or people from ethnic minorities by favouring them in job interviews over equally qualified white men;
  • require public bodies to publish information showing the gender pay gap.

Graeme Bellenger, a partner in Kidd Rapinet, says “The bill had originally been intended to apply to the private sector too, but this was changed. However, it will ensure that private companies supplying the 100,000 public sector bodies in the UK will need to show good equality records. Now is a good time to tighten up practices.

In a separate development, the European Court of Justice has ruled in a landmark case that the mother of a disabled child was subject to disability discrimination through association with her disabled son. The lady concerned wanted time off to care for her son and used disability discrimination legislation, despite not being disabled herself. The ECJ said she was entitled to do so. The interesting point is that the case applies to people discriminated against because of association and could also cover age discrimination cases.

On 2nd July the EU also proposed a new directive in this area which relates to non-discrimination in relation to access to, and supply of, goods and services, education, and social services, such as healthcare and social security.

This raft of measures at UK and EU level means now is the time to tighten up equality procedures and ensure staff are all aware of the law in this field and prepare for the forthcoming changes. We can assist you with this.

Contact Graeme Bellenger (gbellenger@kiddrapinet.co.uk / 020 9725 0303) for further information.