It has been announced that amendments to the Equality Act 2010 will come into effect from January 1st, 2024.
The Government believes that these changes to the Act will bolster protections for workers and ensure that discrimination, inequality, and unfair treatment are confronted head-on.
What are the key changes?
- Pregnancy, Maternity, and Breastfeeding Protections: These amendments widen the scope of protection against discrimination, particularly concerning pregnancy, childbirth and breastfeeding. They clarify that less favourable treatment due to breastfeeding constitutes direct sex discrimination. The changes also ensure that rights related to maternity are more comprehensively covered beyond the “protected period” (after maternity leave) if the unfavourable treatment is related to pregnancy or a pregnancy-related illness.
- Indirect Discrimination by Association: The Equality Act has been extended to include people who are associated with a protected characteristic, meaning they can claim discrimination if there is a practice, policy or criterion in place that will put or would put them at substantially the same disadvantage as persons who do not share that characteristic.
- Discriminatory Statements in Recruitment: The amendments focus on discriminatory practices in recruitment, and recognise that even general discriminatory statements relating to employment can be construed as direct discrimination. Making discriminatory statements about recruitment is prohibited, even when no active recruitment process is underway and there is no identifiable victim.
- Equal Pay Comparators: There is an update to the criteria for determining comparators in equal pay disputes. It reproduces the effects of a ‘single source’ test which is responsible for setting terms of employment of both the claimant and the comparator, thus facilitating more straightforward comparisons in pay equality cases and ensuring equal treatment between them.
- Definition of Disability: The definition of disability has been expanded and now explicitly includes a person’s ability to participate fully and effectively in working life on an equal basis with other workers.
The Government has stated that the amendments represent a positive stride towards creating a workplace environment where every individual is treated fairly and with respect, regardless of their background or characteristics.
How Backhouse Solicitors can help
Employers and employees alike should familiarise themselves with these changes to understand their rights and responsibilities under the new legislation. If you have any questions regarding the new amendments and how you could be affected, then our expert employment law solicitors are here to help. Contact us today to arrange a free initial consultation with one of our team.
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