Equality and Human Rights Monitor: the last five years

Published: 25 January 2024

We published our Equality and Human Rights Monitor on 16 November 2023. It looks at the progress that has been made on equality and human rights in Britain over the last five years. While there has been progress in many areas, there are still great disparities in opportunity between groups.

Since our last report in 2018, people in Britain have faced a variety of challenges and the policy context has shifted substantially. From the UK’s exit from the EU to the COVID-19 pandemic and the cost-of-living crisis, our equality and human rights laws have come under sharp focus.

New legislation

Our framework of laws plays a vital role in protecting people’s rights. Several new laws have also been adopted to strengthen these protections over the last five years.

The Employment Relations (Flexible Working) Act 2023

The pandemic fundamentally changed the way we live and work, with many people now working more flexibly. The Employment Relations (Flexible Working) Act 2023, likely to come into effect this year, will strengthen workers’ rights to request flexible working for years to come. This will be particularly important for those with caring responsibilities, disabled people and older people.

Protection from Redundancy (Pregnancy and Family Leave) Act 2023

Additional workplace protections have also been introduced through the Protection from Redundancy (Pregnancy and Family Leave) Act 2023. It introduces stronger protections for new parents.

The Worker Protection (Amendment of Equality Act 2010) Act 2023

The Worker Protection (Amendment of Equality Act 2010) Act 2023 places a duty on employers to prevent sexual harassment in the workplace.

We have also raised concerns about legislation that we think risks undermining people’s rights. For example, we have raised concerns that new offences in the Public Order Act 2023 risk undermining people’s fundamental rights to protest and express their views peacefully. We have also highlighted how the Illegal Migration Act risks exposing people to serious harm and placing the UK in breach of its international legal obligations to protect human rights. This legislation and other bills currently before Parliament risk creating a hierarchy of rights-holders and undermining the fundamental principle that human rights belong to everyone.

Equality and Human Rights Monitor

Our legal framework is important but is only part of the story. It is vital that people know their rights and that there are effective systems in place to uphold them. It is also important that policymakers have access to robust data so that their decisions can be evidence-driven and targeted where action is most needed.

Our report provides a comprehensive overview of the available data and the key areas where disparities exist. It includes a series of recommendations for public bodies in the UK, Scotland and Wales to help them set evidence-based priorities and equality objectives. We urge those organisations to use them, so that we can all continue to drive progress towards a truly fairer Britain.