New Equality laws?

The Labour Party has announced that it will propose significant changes to discrimination laws if it wins the next general election.  While the exact wording of the proposed legislation has not been published, several press publications have indicated what it may include.

Extend equal pay

Extend equal pay protections under the Equality Act 2010 to include ethnicity and disability. ​ Currently, employees who feel they have been paid unfairly owing to their race can bring a claim for race discrimination.  However, extending equal pay protection to ethnicity would be more complex. The current equal pay laws are intricate and require claimants to meet various legal requirements, such as determining the right comparator and assessing job equality.

Ethnicity and disability pay gaps

Require large employers to publish reports on ethnicity and disability pay gaps.  Currently, mandatory pay gap reporting in the UK is limited to the gender pay gap.  Making ethnicity and disability pay gap reporting mandatory would be a significant change, but the details of how this would be implemented, including which ethnic groups would be included and how they would be defined, remain to be seen.

Dual discrimination

Introduce the ‘dual discrimination’ concept, allowing workers to make discrimination claims based on having two protected characteristics.  For example, an older woman could bring one claim alleging dual discrimination based on age and sex instead of filing separate claims for each protected characteristic.

These proposals are subject to the result of the general election and may be reshaped during the consultation process.  The Labour Party has said it will consult on extending equal pay claims and phase in any changes to provide employers with sufficient time to adjust.