Creating a fairer Britain
The Commission has a statutory duty to promote equality and diversity, work towards the elimination of discrimination, promote human rights and build good relations between and among groups. The Commission has responsibilities in nine areas of equality: age, disability, gender, gender identity, race, religion or belief, sexual orientation, marriage and civil partnership and pregnancy and maternity as well as human rights.
Under the Equality Act 2006 the Commission may ‘advise central or devolved government about the likely effect of a proposed change of law’ (s.11(2)(d)).
The Commission welcomes the opportunity to respond to this Government consultation. It is an important part of our remit to help ensure that employees and employers understand their rights and obligations, to help prevent disputes by for example providing advice or guidance, and where disputes do arise to ensure that there are effective and accessible means of redress.
The Commission’s 2010 report to Parliament 'How Fair is Britain?' (Triennial Review) noted findings from the Fair Treatment at Work Survey 2008 that 13% of British employees had personally experienced unfair treatment in the workplace in the previous 2 years, and that 7% reported experiencing bullying, harassment or discrimination. The Citizenship survey in 2009/10 found that 7% of people in England and Wales felt they had experienced discrimination in the labour market in the last 5 years by being turned down for a job. A further 6% reported discrimination in promotion or progression – a slight decrease from 2007-9. More women than men reported unfair treatment.
We therefore also welcome the Minister's recognition in his foreword to the consultation that it is vitally important that employees continue to have meaningful access to justice.
We agree that it is important to encourage parties to think through whether disputes might be settled earlier and faster by other means. We hope that the Commission’s Statutory Codes of Practice on Employment and on Equal Pay, as well as the associated non-statutory guidance, will contribute to achieving this goal. As the Commission’s Chair says in the Foreword to these Codes, “we only want to intervene when things go wrong as a last resort. Our first priority is to provide information, support and encouragement so that organisations can get it right in the first place.” Part two of each Code provides advice on recommended practice to avoid discrimination across the whole employment cycle.
Download our full consultation response (Word)