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Equalities Bill

The Equalities Bill was announced today, and all firms with more than 250 employees will be required to report on the differences in pay between men and women. Compulsory reporting would not be introduced until 2013 but the government hopes that the measure will compel firms to be more open and transparent about pay before this date.

The Bill is expected to come into force by 2010, and is set to replace nine laws and more than 100 other measures with one single Act to make it easier for employers and staff to understand their legal rights and obligations.

The Bill will also extend protection against discrimination in employment, goods and services in respect of sexual orientation, trans status and age. Many protections which already apply on the basis of sexual orientation will be extended to cover discrimination due to trans status. It will also place a duty on all public bodies to promote equality.

Public bodies with more than 150 employees will also be required to report on gender pay as well as other equality data including the number of black, Asian and minority ethnic workers.

Further measures to bring equality to pay include banning employers’ ability to use employment contracts to prevent staff talking about their wages. Currently, nearly one-quarter of employers stop their staff from discussing their salaries, and the government hopes lifting this will allow more women to challenge unlawful pay.

The Bill will also enable employers to favour under-represented groups during recruitment processes – provided the candidates are of equal suitability – to increase the diversity of their workforces.

Employment tribunals will also be given wider powers to make recommendations to firms on how to improve work practices. Currently, tribunals can only offer recommendations to the individual who brings the case, and they often end up leaving the company.

Under the Equality Bill, tribunals will be able to deliver recommendations directly to firms to ensure similar types of discrimination are not repeated.

If you would like clarification or any advice on any of the points raised in the Equality Bill, please contact us on 0141 572 8427

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