At work

This cross-cutting theme is now closed for comments.

You can read comments made since the start of the Red Tape Challenge in April 2011 below.

You can also still submit comments to the Red Tape Challenge inbox by clicking here.

The Equality Act makes it unlawful to discriminate against, harass or victimise someone at work.  For example, it is unlawful for an employer to refuse someone a promotion because they are a man, or to sexually harass a female colleague.  The Act also makes it unlawful for an employer to pay men and women differently because of their sex when they are doing the same or an equivalent job or work of equal value.

The Act mainly brings together what was in previous law.  In addition it:

The Act also enables Parliament to make further legislation to require private and voluntary sector employers with 250 or more employees to report on their gender pay gap.  The Government does not intend to implement this measure.  Instead, it is working with business to encourage the publication of equality workforce data on a voluntary basis.

The Act also contains a measure which makes employers liable if an employee is repeatedly harassed by a customer or supplier.  The Government plans to consult later this year on removing this measure.

Tell us what you think should happen to these measures and why, being specific where possible

228 responses to At work

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    Ray said on June 15, 2011 at 7:14 pm

    This legislation work as it is and does not need to be changed – but one thing should be added to the legislation is that the statistical data of the different areas of equality should be accounted with anonymity by employers to help risk cases fairly.

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    cim said on June 15, 2011 at 6:50 pm

    Keep the employer liability for harassment by customers and suppliers. It’s the responsibility of an employer to provide a safe working environment – and that includes protecting their staff from third parties while they are at work. (Just as an employer could and should be liable if a customer assaulted a staff member and the employer had not taken reasonable precautions against this)

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    Rajwant Bamrah said on June 15, 2011 at 3:58 pm


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    Erica Howard said on June 15, 2011 at 3:34 pm

    No change required.

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    Tim Burns said on June 15, 2011 at 3:07 pm

    Current statistics demonstrate that equality in the work place has not been achieved. Dismantling the legislation that seeks to promote equality is a negative step and a negative message. Expecting large organisations to act benevolently as part of a voluntary code is too optimistic.

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    Gwen Forkin said on June 15, 2011 at 2:20 pm

    No changes needed, leave this very valuable piece of legilsation alone. Considering that the pay gap is still 14%, this part of the act needs to be made stronger, so that organisations must conduct equal pay audits and must publish the information, including the make-up, pay, and benefits of all senior managers.

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    SARAN said on June 15, 2011 at 2:15 pm


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    Andrew Lord said on June 15, 2011 at 1:37 pm

    no changes required

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    caroline gooding said on June 15, 2011 at 12:56 pm

    This law has just been passed after years of scrutiny and debate it needs to be left to take effect. If anything protection needs to be strengthened the evidence is clear – discrimination is pervasive in our society and very difficult to challenge

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    Teri said on June 15, 2011 at 12:45 pm

    Leave mainly as it is. However, it is ludicrous that a pregnant woman can apply for the job and has to be taken on straight away, leaving the company to pay maternity benefits to someone who has barely started work. They should, of course, take the person on, but agree an employment date starting after maternity leave has ended.

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      Wibble said on June 21, 2011 at 4:27 pm

      Good point. Someone I know only started job hunting when she was planning to get pregnant in order to get the “free” money.

      Women, or men who take maternity/paternity leave should be subject to compulsory pay back in terms of years service to the company. Employers can not afford to pay people for nothing, or reduced work rate etc.

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    Richard Lane said on June 15, 2011 at 11:34 am

    We congratulate the Government on having commenced most of the provisions of the 2010 Equality Act. Stonewall pressed for introduction of the Act, both through public consultation and in its contribution to the 2007 Economic Competitiveness Policy Review, because it represents a significant rationalisation of 116 separate pieces of legislation into one single Act. By both simplifying the law and strengthening it in important ways to help tackle discrimination, it contributes to economic competitiveness.

    Stonewall works with more than 600 major organisations across the public and private sectors employing more than five million people between them. The vast majority of those partner organisations fully support the way that the new Act has simplified existing legislation, thus reducing the regulatory burden on them as employers and service providers.

    We strongly recommend that the Government uses the successful streamlining and simplification exemplified by commencement of the Equality Act as a model for simplification and reduction of red tape across the rest of Britain’s legislative landscape.

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    Oonagh Smyth said on June 15, 2011 at 11:17 am

    Discrimination in employment is one of the largest types of discrimination in the UK. There are still huge gaps in pay between women and men and other protected groups which can not be explained by anything other than discrimination.

    Protecting people from discrimination in employment is not only fundamentally fair it results in better economic outputs. Increasing diversity in the workforce enhances innovation because you are getting a wider range of skills and perspectives, it better represents your customer which allows you to understand their needs and it allows you to deliver in a more flexible way.

    Not legislating against employment discrimination increases the likelihood that people will recruit others that are ‘like’ them resulting in homogenous workplaces and the loss of real skills and abilities that are beneficial to the workplace.

    Legislating against discrimination in employment is unfortunately necessary as there is still discrimination. A voluntary code of practice is illogical – if employers are breaching the law now and risking litigation there is nothing to suggest that they will comply with a non-mandatory code!

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    Mel Ewles said on June 15, 2011 at 11:12 am

    No change and full implementation. Voluntary publication of data? We can safely assume that large companies who don’t publish have a large pay gap!

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    Sharon Willis said on June 15, 2011 at 9:14 am

    No change required. Everyone should be entitled to fair treatment at work.

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    Graham Sherwood said on June 15, 2011 at 5:00 am

    No change required

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    Ash said on June 15, 2011 at 2:13 am

    Why is this being even considered as “red tape”? It is key protective legislation

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    Damian Hart said on June 15, 2011 at 12:20 am

    This is about justice as fairness – why on earth take away people rights who are in most need of them – I find it clear enough!

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    Grace E Bellerby said on June 14, 2011 at 11:14 pm

    I cannot comprehend why this should be suggested for scrapping or weakening. It must be kept if not strengthened. Not only in regards to the gender pay gap, but the rights of disabled employees need to kept – no removal of reasonable adjustments, no penalisation. No one should be fired for being LGBT, a certain race, or because of any of the other protected characteristics.

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    Michael Connolly said on June 14, 2011 at 10:33 pm

    Equal pay law should be liberated to permit all gender pay claims to succeed, such as disproportionate pay (e.g. man paid 30% more for job 10% more demanding), poor pay in segregated occupations, and where male successors recieve more (and discriminatory) pay.

    Government should clarify its social policy aims for the objective justification defence to direct age discrimination, especially retirement.

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    Michael Connolly said on June 14, 2011 at 10:28 pm

    Best left as they are, save that if the country is serious about closing the geneder pay gap, the reporting obligations should be brought into force. A necessary measure, unfortunately.

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