Act Now to Stay Ahead of Gender Equality Standards
Discrimination law specialist Eleanor Williams explains why new legislation could see firms working with local authorities being left out in the cold if they don't comply with new gender equality standards THE biggest shake-up in sex discrimination legislation in 30 years has just been introduced.
The gender equality duty (GED) puts the onus on organisations to tackle discrimination between the sexes.
By having this duty imposed on them, public authorities will have to show they deal with the issue of gender equality effectively.
So, instead of relying on individuals to bring claims of sex discrimination, public authorities must be proactive.
Under the new code of practice, the GED places a statutory duty on all public authorities to have due regard to the need to eliminate unlawful discrimination and harassment and promote equality of opportunity between men and women.
The term 'public authority' not only refers to the public sector, but also to private sector or voluntary bodies when they carry out public functions. And it is worth noting that public bodies are still covered by the duty when services are contracted out.
So, if a private organisation has a contract with a public authority, and that private organisation has an Equal Opportunities policy that falls short of the GED, it could be a legitimate reason for the public authority not to renew the contract.
In addition to the general duty that was implemented on April 6, specific duties were introduced in England at the same time applying to very large, high-profile public authorities and it is expected that they will be introduced in Wales by the end of the year.
These duties will be implemented in Wales when the Welsh Assembly Government has obtained a transfer of functions order, but businesses should not wait for them to be in place.
Preparing and publishing a gender equality scheme;
Considering the inclusion of objectives to address the causes of gender pay gaps;
Gathering and using gender equality information;
Consulting stakeholders on what is relevant to gender equality;
Assessing the impact of their current and proposed policies and practices;
Implementing actions from their gender equality schemes;
Reporting on their scheme every year and reviewing it at least every three years. …