Thursday, 31 December 2009

Discrimination Legislation: A Question of Balance

Let's face it, legislation outlawing discrimination in the UK is a complex mess! Even without the details of the numerous "statutory instruments" we've still got at least the following pieces of legislation to negotiate:
  • Equal Pay Act 1970
  • Employment Equality (Age) Regulations 2006
  • Equality Act 2006
  • Disability Discrimination Act 1995
  • Employment Equality (Sexual Orientation) Regulations 2003
  • Employment Equality (Religion or Belief) Regulations 2003
  • Race Relations Act 1976 - as amended by the Race Relations (Amendment) Act 2000
  • Human Rights Act 1998
  • Sex Discrimination Act 1975
So it's probably a relief to most employers that the 2010 Equality Bill will soon be under consultation and discussion, prior to (intended) implementation in Autumn 2010.

Other than the fact that the Bill will simplify the existing situation, is there still a need for such legislation? Apparently so. In the government's own words, "despite considerable progress since 1997, inequality and discrimination still exist which is why the law needs to be strengthened." The following figures are certainly ones to raise the eyebrows:
women are paid on average 23 per cent less per hour than men
disabled people are twice as likely to be out of work
people from ethnic minority backgrounds are nearly a fifth less likely to find work
one in five older people are refused quotes for motor or travel insurance, or car hire
Just one provocative question though: does an environment in which anti-discrimination is tightly enforced automatically lead to one in which diversity can prevail and flourish?


  1. so what is the HR profession going to do about these inequalities!

    I mean its getting old. Like the question about the role of HR. About time we should some real leadership

  2. V helpful post to remind us of the legistlation that we all have to negotiate whether in HR or not. I think the stats are just a diversion and prevent deeper understanding of bigger issues. Typical Govt tactics.

    To your final question - I don't think so. But I've always preferred carrot to stick and have always thought common sense should be our guide.

    Great blog btw.

  3. Peter/Mikey

    Thanks to both of you for the comments and feedback. Hope to hear more from you in 2010!

  4. Does an environment in which anti-discrimination is tightly enforced automatically lead to one in which diversity can prevail and flourish?

    I agree with Mikey B. Common sense needs to prevail. Tight enforcement helps but if a desire towards maximising the potential present in society is not innate then organisations end up priding themselves on jumping through hoops and avoiding censure. The value added outputs are lost.

    Peter Lanc is saying what some services cause people to think about HR, hopefully this decade we might wake up an smell the roses. BTW glad I have found this blog.

  5. HRBystander: Thanks for your very perceptive comments, and glad that you're finding the blog of use. Comments are always most welcome!