We have been promised new equality legislation that (to quote Harriet Harman, the Minister for Women and Equality) will be "stonkingly good". It is hard to tell from the recently published White Paper whether the single equality Act will live up to that billing. It is short on detail, but does outline the Government's thinking on a number of key points, including the following, which are of particular interest to employers:
- Positive discrimination will be allowed as a reason for choosing between two equally-qualified candidates, where this is done to favour an under-represented group in the workforce.
- The duty on public sector organisations to promote equality of opportunity will be extended across all six discrimination strands. This duty will extend to specific duties on public sector employers in relation to gender pay and ethnic minority and disability employment.
- Pay secrecy clauses in employment contracts will be banned to promote pay transparency and help eliminate gender pay differences.
The White Paper promises a more detailed paper on the content of the proposed single equality Act "shortly".
The White Paper can be accessed here.