In its equality strategy, published last week, the Government has revealed its hand on a number of key equality issues. On the employment front the most eye-catching news is the announcement that the controversial "tie breaker" provision in the Equality Act will be commenced in April next year. This will allow employers to prefer candidates from under-represented groups when selecting from two or more equally-qualified applicants. It has also come clean on its approach to gender pay gap reporting in the private sector, where its approach seems indistinguishable from that of the outgoing Labour Government. Employers (particularly those with 150 or more staff) will be encouraged to disclose data on their gender pay gap voluntarily, although the threat of compulsion in the future remains.
Some previously-published plans, like removing the default retirement age and expanding the right to request flexible working to all employees, have now been set in a fuller equality context. On the former we are promised a response to October's consultation by the end of 2010, but no time frame has been set for the latter. The strategy also includes a brief account of the Government's approach to the new public sector equality duty which will apply from April next year, as well as its longer-term plans to end age discrimination in the provision of goods and services.