Viewpoint: The Equality Act 2010 – A Blessing or a Curse?
- Date: Tuesday 8th December 2015
The introduction of the Equality Act 2010 left many employers confused and worried about potential discrimination claims, since the definitions under the Act have become less prescriptive and more open to interpretation and consideration.
Individuals have the right to be protected again discrimination on grounds of 9 protected characteristics:
- Pregnancy and Maternity/Paternity/Adoption
- Marital Status
- Sexual Orientation
- Gender reassignment
Claims seem to have become more complex, complicated and time consuming when listed for hearings. Having said that, judges are by no means biased towards claimants and often employees find that suing for a discrimination related issue may well give them their time in court, but requires thorough planning, investigation and fact based research and evidence. This means that as long as employers implement strong policies and stick to them, claims can be largely avoided.
More importantly, by introducing legal guidance that allows for interpretation, employers now have to engage more openly with their workforce and give consideration to reasonable adjustments and more diversity. Most organisations now operate an equality policy and statutory processes for disciplinaries and grievances ensure that fair representation and thorough investigations limit personal prejudices.
Arguably, the Equality Act has grown with the times, considering that issues such as gender reassignment and a more varied mix of religions are more current ones and usually also need to be reviewed in context.
With 18% of the UK workforce suffering from disabilities, 23% defining themselves as not being 100% heterosexual and over 2 million single-parent families, we all have to drop assumptions and change our mindset to make positive steps towards anti-discrimination practices.
Through our Advisor scheme we can support your business through a variety of auditing, training and consultancy services. Call us today to learn how we can help with issues relating to Equality and other HR themes.
Call us on 01752 201616 for more information.
Souce: Manuela Grossmann - SSG