Call for more action on equality

The TUC is calling for the Equality Act to be fully enforced on its 10th anniversary as a YouGov poll shows 37% of managers plan redundancies by the year end.

equal pay with gender sign instead of the 'q'


The TUC is calling on the government to implement the Equality Act in full on its 10th anniversary today, including restoring protections on harassment and publishing equality impact assessments.

The TUC also wants the Government to show how they have delivered on their legal duties under the act through the Covid-19 crisis. The Government has not, for instance, published an equality impact assessment on the impact of Covid-19 legislation on gender.

The Equality Act became law  on 1st October 2010. It protects working people from discrimination based on age, sex, disability, race, religion or belief, sexual orientation, marriage or civil partnership status, pregnancy or maternity, or gender reassignment. The TUC says it was also designed to improve the lives of working class people through tackling inequality, but the part of the act that deals with socio-economic equality was never brought into force.  It wants to see that reinstated to protect those on low incomes; a reintroduction of protections that were originally in the Equality Act – such as Section 40, which would make employers liable for harassment of their employees by customers or clients; and publication of equality impact assessments for all government policies.

TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady said: “Everyone has the right to respect and equal treatment at work – and in wider society.

“The Equality Act should have been a gamechanger. But 10 years on, it still isn’t fully in force. Now is the time for the government to implement it in full.

“The pandemic has shown that the UK is still riven with discrimination.

“Black workers are more likely to be in frontline jobs with inadequate PPE – and more likely to die. Pregnant and disabled workers are too often first in line for redundancy. And the disappearance of much childcare provision has left women struggling to hold on to their jobs.

“Without the protection of Section 40 of the Equality Act, staff have less protection from abuse and harassment. Yet during the pandemic, we have seen a rise in hostility and assaults on shop workers and hospitality staff.

“Britain can be a more equal, more prosperous country. Equality must not be an afterthought for ministers.”

Redundancies looming

The call comes amid concerns about rising redundancies. A YouGov poll for Acas found six out of 10 large businesses said they were likely to make redundancies in the next three months and that over a quarter of businesses that are likely to make redundancies, said they plan to do this remotely over video chat or a phone call. One in four bosses were unaware of the law around consulting staff before making redundancies, with a third of smaller businesses [less than 50 workers] being unaware.

Labour has highlighted new figures showing at least 300,000 applications for universal credit during the first four months of the pandemic were considered ineligible because claimants had over £16,000 in savings or their partners were deemed to earn too much. According to a Salford University study on welfare, around 26% of new universal credit claimants are from managerial, administrative and professional backgrounds.

Meanwhile, new analysis by Morgan Stanley shows that 45% of UK office staff returned to their workplaces in September, up from 37% in August and 34% in July. The increase recorded last month came before Prime Minister Boris Johnson urged employees in England to work from home where possible to help try and contain a possible second wave of coronavirus. The data, collected by Morgan Stanley’s Alphawise research unit, reveal that the UK had less people back in the office than the rest of Europe. It said 32% of UK office staff were working from home five days per week compared to 16-19% of office staff working from home five days a week across continental Europe.

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