Women and Equalities Committee proposes changes to enforcement of discrimination rights
The Women and Equalities Committee of the House of Commons (“WEC”) have yesterday published a report proposing radical changes to the way in which rights under the Equality Act 2010 are enforced. The report sheds light on current Equality Act rights stating that they are ‘not fit for purpose’. It goes on to say individual compensation is not always the most effective solution to dealing with cases of discrimination because often, in these cases, it’s the people of ‘a specific class’ who are being discriminated against. Individual claims hardly ever trigger systematic change as cases are often settled.
In response to this the WEC are hoping to shift the ‘burden of enforcement’ from individuals to the Equality and Human Rights Commission and other enforcement bodies. They recommended placing each government department under a legal duty to ensure that enforcement bodies are using their powers to secure compliance with the Equality Act in the sector for which they are responsible reducing their reliance from individual complaints. As a result, they make much greater use of their unique enforcement powers. The WEC also recommend legislation to empower both employment tribunals and county courts to make remedial orders that require organisational change and to make wider recommendations where this can support change in the wider sector making small progress towards dealing with discrimination. The EHRC must refocus its work and ensure that all those who have powers to change the way in which employers, public bodies and service providers operate. They should use their powers to eliminate discrimination and advance equality.
Alicia Collinson, a solicitor here at Thrive, commented “should any of these measures be put into place, this would be a good step forward for equality. Time and time again, we see that whilst individual matters of discrimination are resolved (usually in a negotiated departure) those who are departing are leaving a workplace where discrimination is ingrained and commonplace. However, like almost all committee recommendations, time will tell whether anything comes of this.”
Alicia is particularly passionate about discrimination, especially sex and maternity discrimination. She has secured a position volunteering for the Rights of Women Sexual Harassment helpline, and volunteers for Maternity Action on their Mumsnet Forum. She also volunteers as a mentor at her former school, encouraging young women to join the legal sector.
Read more about the update here.
Written by Ola El-Jack.