But although equality impact assessments were not mandatory for private sector organisations, and while they may no longer essential for those in the public sector, the Equality at Work Act 2010 still requires employers of all sizes to be transparent and to ensure that equal opportunities and recruitment policies are compliant.
Requiring organisations, large and small, to promote equality and avoid discrimination within the workplace, the Equality at Work Act 2010 includes legislation to avoid discrimination concerning characteristics such as sex, age, race, religion, marital status, sexual orientation and disability. This includes both direct and indirect discrimination, as well as discrimination by association, for instance if a relative is known to have different beliefs.
The Act also covers harassment, increased transparency in pay, the prevention of employers asking prospective employees about their health before offering them work, and powers for employment tribunals to recommend remedies for the whole workforce, rather than just an individual claimant.
Of course, the easiest way to keep the costs of employment tribunals as a result of inequality in the workplace is to get it right first time. To help with this, the Equality and Human Rights Commission have published codes of practice for employers, including one for equal pay, recruitment, services, public functions and associations. Each of these codes sets out what the legislation means and what the legal implications are. The Commission also offer advice and guidance for employers, offering easy to understand information on a range of different scenarios.
Acas also offer advice and guidance on equality and you can find out more about what each type of discrimination covers on the equality pages of their website.
And while carrying out the lengthy process of an equality impact assessment is not necessary, documenting and publishing your processes and ensuring transparency is essential in making sure that you are not left open to debate.
The number of employment tribunals rises every year and even when you have taken the best possible advice and included policies and procedures that should comply with all legislation, as an employer it is sometimes unavoidable that a claim will be made against you.
Should all else fail, your legal expenses insurance - an optional extra in many commercial insurance policies and coming as standard with Towergate's employers liability insurance - can help to minimise the cost of defending claims against you, as well as paying for any awards or damages you may have to pay.
Date: August 20, 2021