Equality Bill – eight strands of equality
Employment Equality (Age) Regulations 2006
From 1 October 2006, the Employment Equality (Age) Regulations made it unlawful to discriminate against workers, employees, job seekers and trainees because of their age. The Regulations cover recruitment, terms and conditions, promotions, transfers, terminations and training.
Disability Equality Duty 2006
Disability Discrimination Act (DDA) 2005
Disability Discrimination Act (DDA) 1995
The Disability Discrimination Act (DDA) makes it unlawful to discriminate against disabled people, or people who have had a disability, in a number of areas including, employment, access to goods and services, education and transport.
In April 2005 the Act was amended and the definition of disability extended to include, HIV, multiple sclerosis and cancer. There was also a change in the classification for mental illness, which no longer needs to be ‘clinically well recognised’ to be classed as an impairment.
The new legislation introduced in 2006 places:
- A duty on public bodies to actively promote disability equality; and
- A specific duty to publish a Disability Equality Scheme (DES). The scheme should set out how an organisation intends to meet the general duty and be reviewed every three years.
The Equality Act 2006 (Gender Equality Duty)
Gender Recognition Act 2004
Discrimination on the basis of gender has been prohibited by the Sex Discrimination Act 1975 in relation to employment and the provision of goods, facilities and services. However, under the Gender Equality Duty, public bodies are required to actively promote gender equality through their key functions. The duty requires public authorities to have due regard to the need to:
- Eliminate unlawful discrimination with regard to obligations under the Sex Discrimination Act 1975 and the Equal Pay Act 1970, and to take steps to ensure compliance with these Acts; and
- Promote equality of opportunity between men and women, and take active steps to promote gender equality when carrying out functions and activities.
The specific duties include:
- Publishing Gender Equality Schemes, including equal pay policies, in consultation with employees and stakeholders;
- Monitoring progress and publishing progress reports every three years; and
- Conducting and publishing gender impact assessments on major new legislation and policy.
The Gender Recognition Act 2004 gives transgendered or transexual people full legal recognition of change of gender. It enables them to live fully and permanently in their chosen gender and to apply for legal recognition of that gender.
4. Sexual orientation
Equality in Employment Regulations (Sexual Orientation)
These Regulations made it unlawful to discriminate on the grounds of sexuality, directly or indirectly; or to harass or victimise somebody because they have made a complaint or intend to, or if they give or intend to give evidence to a complaint of discrimination. This applies to all aspects of employment (recruitment, terms and conditions, promotions, transfers, terminations and training) and vocational training.
5. Race and ethnicity
Race Relations (Amendment) Act 2000
Under the general duty of the Race Relations (Amendment) Act 2000, employers are required to promote race equality with due regard to the need to:
- Eliminate unlawful discrimination
- Promote equality of opportunity; and
- Promote good relations between people of different racial groups
There is also a specific duty to publish a Race Equality Scheme (RES), this should set out how a public body intends to meet the general duty and it must be reviewed every three years. Other specific duties include:
- Assessing and consulting on the likely impact of proposed policies relating to the promotion of race equality
- Monitoring policies for any adverse impact relating to the promotion of race equality
- Publishing the results of any assessments, consultations and monitoring
- Ensuring public access to information and services provided; and
- Training staff on the Race Equality Duty
6. Religion or belief
Equality in Employment Regulations (Religion or Belief) 2003
These Regulations made it unlawful to discriminate on the grounds of religion or belief, directly or indirectly; or to harass or victimise somebody because they have made a complaint or intend to, or if they give or intend to give evidence to a complaint of discrimination. This applies to all aspects of employment (recruitment, terms and conditions, promotions, transfers, terminations and training) and vocational training.
In relation to services, Part 2 of the Equality Act 2006 makes it unlawful for a public body involved in providing goods, facilities or services to discriminate on the grounds of religion or belief through:
- Refusing to provide a person with goods, facilities or services if they would normally do so to the public, or to a section of the public to which the person belongs; and
- Providing goods, facilities or services of an inferior quality to those that would normally by provided, or in a less favourable manner or on less favourable terms than would normally be the case.
The Work and Families Act 2006
The Carers (Equal Opportunities) Act 2004
The Employment Act 2002
Employment Relations Act 1999
The Employment Act gave working parents of disabled children under 18 the right to request flexible working arrangements. The Carers (Equal Opportunities) Act 2004 and the Work and Families Act 2006 further extended the legal rights and protections for carers at work. The Work and Families Act set out the right of parents of children under six (or 18 if the child is disabled) to request flexible working. Employees who have worked for their employer for at least 26 weeks can apply to make a permanent change to their terms and conditions.
Since 6 April 2007, employees also have a statutory right to request flexible working if they are caring for an adult who is a relative or lives at the same address eg. changing hours, compressed hours or working from home. There are also long existing provisions (within the Employment Relations Act 1999) giving employees the right to take (unpaid) time off work for dependants in cases of emergency.
The legislation defines a carer as someone who cares for, or expects to care for, a husband, wife or partner, a relative such as a child, uncle, sister, parent-in-law, son-in-law or grandparent, or someone who falls into neither category but lives at the same address as the carer.
8. Human rights
The Human Rights Act 1998
The Human Rights Act applies to all public authorities, including the NHS and makes it unlawful to violate the rights contained in the European Convention on Human Rights.
Human rights are those ascribed to individuals by the Human Rights Act, including (but not limited to) the right to
- Liberty and security
- Respect for private and family life
- Freedom of expression
- Freedom of thought, conscience and religion