Thompsons Partner and Chair of Equality in the Law Committee, Rory McPherson has welcomed the recent Equality Bill introduced to parliament by Harriet Harman, Minister for Woman and Equality and Head of the House of Commons.
Despite considerable progress, inequality and discrimination still exist in the workplace, which is why the law needs to be strengthened.
The Equality Bill, published last week, intends to promote the interests of women, elderly and the disabled in the workplace. It sets out groundbreaking new laws which could help narrow the gap between rich and poor; require business to report on gender pay; outlaw age discrimination; and significantly strengthen Britain’s anti-discrimination legislation.
The bill allows positive discrimination during recruitment in favour of disadvantaged groups when faced with candidates who are otherwise equally qualified. At the moment, people with a disability are twice more likely to be out of work than those of able body. Provisions of the new bill should help narrow this gap by giving the disabled more opportunities through training programmes and other schemes which would improve their skills and therefore their value to employers.
Another area of where change is welcomed is in regard to people at a disadvantage due to their social or economic circumstances. Under the new Bill the Government shall be under a duty to put people from poorer or disadvantaged backgrounds to the forefront of their mind when making general policy decisions.
The proposed changes under the Bill will bring the UK in line with recent European case law on the topic of equality and will hopefully lead to fairer employment prospects for women, the disabled, the elderly and other currently disadvantaged groups.