As part of the 2011 Budget announced yesterday, the Chancellor's Plan for Growth sees the dual discrimination rules which were soon to be introduced under the Equality Act 2010 scrapped. The implementation of the rules had already been subject to postponement. The provisions under section 14 of the Act would have allowed claims to have been raised where an individual had been discriminated against because of a combination of two of the following protected characteristics: age, disability, gender reassignment, race, religion or belief, sex or sexual orientation. The rules are one of many "costly" regulations to go in a governmental aim to remove £350 million worth of specific regulations.
A further blow was dealt to the Equality Act with the announcement that the government will consult on the repeal of the provisions in relation to third party harassment. The sections on harassment in the Act hold the employer liable for any harassment related to one of the earlier mentioned protected characteristics of an employee by a third party where the employer failed to take reasonable practicable steps to prevent the harassment and where the harassment had occurred on at least two previous occasions. We are sure that this news brings with it a great sigh of relief from many employers.