Equality Bill passes its final Commons stages

07 April 2010

The Government's Equality Bill completed its final stages in the Commons. MPs accepted a number of amendments made by the House of Lords. The Bill now awaits Royal Assent

The Bill

The measure will harmonise and in some cases extend existing discrimination law covering age, disability, gender reassignment, marriage and civil partnership, pregnancy and maternity, race, religion or belief, sex, and sexual orientation.

It will address the impact of recent case law which is generally seen as having weakened discrimination protection, and harmonise provisions defining indirect discrimination.

Key areas:

  • 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

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