Proposed changes to the Equality Act 2010 enforcement provisions
CAGS response to consultation (August 2012)
The government is proposing to remove two enforcement provisions of the Equality Act 2010. We are opposed to these proposals. Although it might appear that the provisions concerned are of little practical benefit, we believe that each of them plays an important role in protecting members of the LGBT community and other minority groups from discrimination and harassment.
Reference Number: Section 124(3)(b): Recommendations to employers
This provision allows Employment Tribunals to make recommendations to employers once a case has been concluded. We believe that this is of practical benefit, as such recommendations not only make clear to employers who have been found in breach of the Act that muddling through is not an acceptable way forward, they establish what the Act entails for employers generally.
The government’s stated reason for wishing to remove this provision is that it hurts the business of Equality Consultants. We believe that the opposite is the case. Recommendations from Employment Tribunals are, of necessity, general in nature. Equality Consultants will be needed to assist employers in drawing up and implementing the practical steps necessary for them to comply with the tribunal’s recommendations.
Reference Number: Section 138: “Questions & Answers”
The Questionnaire Procedure, otherwise known as “Questions & Answers”, which the government wishes to remove, enables an employee who has been subjected to discrimination or harassment to build the case that they will present to the Employment Tribunal, by, for example, asking if a particular manager has a previous record of harassment or discrimination. In the absence of any provision requiring employers to provide such information, it will be more difficult for the employee, and hence the tribunal, to establish the relevant facts.
It is our contention that each of the provisions above plays an important role in protecting members of the LGBT community and other minority groups from harassment and discrimination in the workplace. We therefore urge the government to withdraw these two proposed amendments.
See also our response on third party harassment.