Equality

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New Equality Bill

16 January 2010

The new Equality Bill is now before Parliament, it sets out groundbreaking new laws which will significantly strengthen Britainís anti-discrimination legislation.

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The Treaty of Rome established the European Community in 1957, which, among other things, was to provide for equality of opportunity. Since then nine major pieces of legislation and around 100 other measures have been enacted.

The new Bill will simplify the law, replacing the existing legislation with a single Act written in plain English to make it easier for individuals and employers to understand their legal rights and obligations. It sets out groundbreaking new laws that will help narrow the gap between rich and poor; require business to report on gender pay; outlaw age discrimination; and will significantly strengthen Britainís anti-discrimination legislation.

Inequality and discrimination still exist, despite the considerable amount of legislation, which is why the law needs to be strengthened.

  • women are paid on average 23 per cent less per hour than men (from the 2008 Annual Survey of Hours and Earnings);
  • 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; and
  • One in five older people are refused quotes for motor or travel insurance, or car hire (Age Concern/Help the Aged, Insurance and age - exploring behaviour, attitudes and discrimination, March 2007).

The Equality Bill is expected to come in to force from autumn 2010 (subject to successfully passing through Parliament).