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Equality North East

The Equality Act comes into force

This means that almost all current discrimination law ceases to apply and is instead replaced by the new law. In practice the majority of the changes will not impact upon your day to day decision making, but there are certain things you must ensure have been checked and do tread with care over the next few months when making decisions which may be affected by discrimination law.

A few key steps to take (if you have not already) are:
* do not use old template compromise agreements as these will not work from 1 October. Individuals will still be able to bring discrimination claims even if they sign them unless the Equality Act is referred to within the elements on claims settled and the provisions regarding qualifying compromise contracts are complied with;
* ensure that your equal opportunities or diversity policy covers all of the protected characteristics and does not refer to out of date law. Similarly make sure your equal opportunities training and recruitment materials are up to date;
* check that your recruitment process does not put you at unnecessary risk with the new rules on requesting health information. Medical questions and questionnaires should not be used before a job is offered, save for making reasonable adjustments to the recruitment process or checking if the applicant can carry out a function intrinsic to the post concerned;
* have in place a process for handling employee complaints about harassment from service users, customers, clients, and other organisation's employees. You can now be liable for such harassment on unlawful grounds unless you can demonstrate that you have taken such steps as were reasonably practicable to stop it occurring;
* don't assume that those who you determined did not have a disability will still not do so. The test has changed to remove the defined list of day to day activities which currently must be affected. Disability discrimination is the area which will change the most under the new law.

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October 6, 2010

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