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Upcoming changes to EDI legislation

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Everyone has a right to be treated with dignity and respect inside - and outside - of work. It’s a basic human right and it also has huge benefits for your organisation. People who are treated fairly, whose opinions are taken on board, and whose skills are embraced, make a crucial contribution to the success of the team and the business.

The Equality Act includes core rights to try to ensure equality, diversity, and inclusion is practised at work.  The Equality Act 2010 was created to simplify, strengthen, and harmonise existing legislation to provide Britain with a discrimination law, which not only helps protect individuals from inequitable treatment but also provides and promotes a fair and equal society.

Under the Act, both employers and employees have responsibilities that they are legally required to adhere to. Therefore, it is crucial that actions are taken to ensure that neither party breaches the law and that both parties are kept informed on updates to legislation.

The Equality Act 2010 (Amendment) Regulations 2023 came into effect on 1 January 2024.  These updated regulations have been put in place to ensure that certain discrimination protections, which were derived from EU law, are preserved directly in Great Britain’s legislation – otherwise they would have disappeared at the end of 2023 due to Brexit.  Therefore, whilst these regulations do not introduce anything new, it is good to have a refresher on what protections are included in these regulations...

Pregnant and breastfeeding mothers

Discrimination (i.e. less favourable treatment) because an employee is breastfeeding is a form of sex discrimination within the workplace. 

The regulations also underscore that providing more favourable treatment in connection with maternity leave, pregnancy and/or childbirth is explicitly permitted under the law.

The law is there to try to ensure fair treatment and support for individuals navigating maternity-related issues in the workplace.

Discrimination in recruitment

This legislation confirms that a discrimination claim can be brought if discriminatory statements are used  in recruitment, even where there is not an active recruitment process taking place and no identifiable victim.  An example of this would be a statement that the organisation did not want to recruit people with certain protected characteristics.

Definition of disability

It is confirmed that when considering the definition of disability, being able to 'carry out normal day-to-day activities' includes the person’s ability to fully participate in working life on an equal basis with other employees.

Indirect discrimination by association

It is confirmed that there is a legal right to claim ‘indirect discrimination by association’.  Indirect discrimination is where there is a ‘provision, criterion or practice’ (‘PCP’) that applies to everyone but which puts a particular protected group at a disadvantage.  For example, a PCP could be a company rule that no one is allowed to wear a head covering.  This could be indirectly discriminatory towards Muslim women.  However, if there is objective justification for the PCP, then this would be a defence.  For example, if the rule on not wearing head coverings is necessary to protect health and safety. 

‘Indirect discrimination by association’ is where the person bringing a claim does not hold the relevant protected characteristic (e.g. religion) but suffers the same disadvantage at the hands of the employer’s PCP as those who do have that characteristic.

Workplace EDI Training

Our experts have put together a free bitesize guide for employees to better understand their responsibilities. It includes information surrounding the importance of EDI, The Equality Act 2010, and an actionable checklist to help them promote EDI in the workplace.

We also offer a Workplace Equality Training Bundle that covers a number of key course topics surrounding EDI. This includes:

Claim your free, no-obligation trial to any of these courses today! Alternatively, request a bespoke quote for your organisation today and a member of our team will be in touch shortly to discuss your training needs.