A new Equality Bill is due to be introduced this month in preparation for legislation to be published in November 2008. It is intended that the Bill will simplify the existing British discrimination law and ensure that it is in alignment with EU law. One of the stated aims of the Bill is to bring together the nine major pieces of equality legislation and about 100 other laws in a single Bill.
It has been announced that the Bill will permit certain types of positive action in recruitment and promotion, and force employers to be less secretive about salaries in order to try to close the pay gap between men and women.
The Bill may also address whether discrimination by association should be prohibited in all types of discrimination (sex, race, disability, religion, sexual orientation and age). This would give protection to employees who are associated with people against whom discrimination is prohibited, for example, the parents of disabled children. Tribunals will be given the power to make recommendations to employers in respect of their working practices, so that benefits can be brought to the entire workforce when an employee makes a successful claim. The new legislation will also be expected to standardise the definitions of harassment in discrimination law.