My dissertation is going to be studying inequality in the workplace, and the nature of the modern day division of labour. So it was incredibly helpful to see that our Harriet has launched a scathing attack on working inequality by publishing the new Equality Bill.
There are currently nine major pieces of discrimination legislation and over 100 statutory instruments setting out connected rules and regulations. This amounts to more than 2500 pages of guidance and statutory codes of practice. The Equality Bill will replace all the tangled web of confusion, so that those who benefit from the law, and those who need to comply with it, can really see its meaning.
But, let’s look at what is really contained within the Bill. It will introduce a new Equality Duty upon the public sector. At present, there are three equality duties which have required public authorities to tackle discrimination and promote equality for race, disability and gender. The new duty will bring together those three and extend it to cover gender reassignment, age, sexual orientation and religion or belief. (So when my Sainsbury’s line-manager criticises my socialism, I’ll be able to cite the new equality duty!)
However, equality cannot be properly tackled if it remains hidden. Public bodies will comply with the equality duty by reporting on, gender pay, ethnic minority employment and disability employment. Secrecy clauses, banning people discussing their own pay, will be banned themselves. A new “kite-mark” will be introduced to demonstrate the effectiveness of equal pay audits in closing the gender pay gap.
What has hit the headlines recently, has been moves to further positive action. This means that employers will now be forced to take into account the under-representation of certain groups in their sector, when looking at like-for-like candidates. The use of all-women shortlists in Parliamentary selections is also being extended to 2030, something Brigid Jones may have something to say about.
What this Bill has done already is prove, once again, that Labour is the party of equality, from challenging disability discrimination and to tackling the pay gap, to fighting racism and introducing civil partnerships – Labour has always been at the forefront of progress. I for one, if you’ve not already guessed, am really excited about this particular piece of legislation.