The Solicitor - The FindLaw UK Life, Family and Workplace Law Blog

Single Equality Act: The Socio-Economic Duty - Part 2

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[Continued from .]

Research proves socio-economic factors affect how well people do throughout their lives.  The Government argues the socio-economic duty is needed because:

  • Poorer children (who get free school meals between the ages of seven and 14) are less likely to go onto higher education;
  • Less academically able but better off children overtake more able, but poorer children by the age of six;
  • The income gap between those in work continues into retirement as those in higher paid jobs are more likely to have company pension schemes, giving them financial security in retirement; &
  • Women generally live longer than men, but since the early 1980s poorer women have been living less long than rich men.

Socio-economic disadvantages can also reinforce and increase the inequalities associated with disability, gender and race:

  • Disabled adults are twice as likely to live in low-income households as non-disabled adults;
  • Half of all lone parents are in low income households, the overwhelming majority of them being women;
  • Only 61% of Muslim men have jobs, compared to 80% of Christian men, and 82% of Hindu men; &
  • Around 70% of people from black and minority ethnic backgrounds live in the most deprived wards in the country.

The Government expects the socio-economic duty to become law in April 2011.

Other provisions in the Single Equality Act

The Single Equality Act includes a number of other measures, including:

  • Giving power to public bodies to use procurement to drive equality;
  • Banning age discrimination outside the workplace, for example in financial services (insurance, credit) and in health services;
  • A power requiring employers with over 250 employees to publish their gender pay gap to assist transparency;
  • Extending the scope for employers to use positive action to recruit someone from an under-represented group when choosing between otherwise equal candidates;
  • Enabling employment tribunals to make recommendations that affect the wider workforce and not just the victim of discrimination;
  • Protecting carers from discrimination;
  • Protecting breastfeeding mothers;
  • Strengthening protection against discrimination for disabled people;
  • New protection against discrimination because of a combination of two characteristics (known as 'dual discrimination'); &
  • Tackling the misuse of pre-employment questionnaires about health or disability.

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