Employment Law

Need of the Equality Act, 2010 in the UK

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Introduction

This report discusses the need of the Equality Act, 2010. It demonstrates the awareness of the Equality Act, 2010 among the employer and employee. It describes the significant influence of EU law on discrimination law in the UK (Beveridge and Velluti, 2008). It discusses the importance of this act with the help of case laws. It evaluates the statutory provisions to protect individuals within the employer, employee relationship against prohibited conduct including harassment and victimization. This act assists the disabled person to give them equal opportunity as able person. The equality law, 2010 was framed to regulate the equal treatment of citizens and employees and customer by eliminating discrimination on grounds of sex, race, disability etc.

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Equality act, 2010

Equality Act, a new discrimination law came into force on 1st October 2010. This Act is a combination of 110 separation legislation such as the Equal Pay Act, Sex discrimination Act, etc. This Act follows the proverb that all are equal in the eyes of the law (Gustafson, G. B. 2015). The provision of Equality Act is framed to protect the rights of citizenship and provides equal grounds of opportunity. It gives the right to take legal action against discrimination on the grounds of race, gender, age, disability, etc. (Barnard, 2012). It strengthens the employees to fight against unfair treatment.  Its aim is to minimize the hardship faced by a group of people due to their protected characteristics.

Relevance of equality in organizational context

Employers have to properly go through their recruitment policies and check that rules and policies do not go against the equality act. It would cease the unfair behavior faced by women. The pay of the employees should be decided on the basis of their skills and abilities, and not on the basis of their gender, color religion. The disabled person has given equal grounds of opportunity as able person. This act prohibits victimization and harassment faced by employees due to their protected characteristics (Lawson, 2008). It prohibits pay secrecy clause as employer adds a clause in an employer, employee handbook that employees are not allowed to disclose their salary to anyone. Employers pay different salary to different employees on the basis of their caste, color, sex. Here employees are given right to take action against this type of discrimination (Baker, Lynch, and Cantillon, 2009). It extended the power of employment tribunal to sort out the grievances between employer and employee.

Impact of EU law on employment relations

Employment law and employment relations are highly influenced by European law. Objective of European Union (EU) employment law is to provide protection to employees from biased behaviour of employees. For this aspect standard guidelines have been described by law regarding equal pay, working time, part-time and fixed-term work, discrimination and the protection of pregnant workers. Employers are required to comply these norms in formation of workplace policies. These provisions aim to assure that fair policies are implemented by employer and they are not exploiting workers in an unethical way.

Types of discrimination

Discrimination faced by employee is classified under following heads:

If an employee or any person in the workplace is treated differently and inferior as compared to other workforce because they fall into protected characteristics or they are associated with the people of these characteristics such as caste, color, gender, etc. this is known as direct discrimination (Gustafson, 2015). It is considered as unlawful under the equality act, 2010. The aggrieved party can take legal action in the civil courts. For example, women are denied from promotion because employer considers him as the unskillful only cause of her gender. Here women are facing direct discrimination and has a right to take legal action against him.

Management frames a standard rules and policies for all the people working, but these police adversely affect the people who have protected characteristics. These people face a particular disadvantage because of these policies (Rutherglen, 2007). This is known as indirect discrimination. For example: employer modifies the clauses of employment and added that employee’s weekend is shifted from Sunday to Tuesday. Now they have to work on Sunday as well. Here Christians are the disadvantaged people as Sunday is the day when they all get together to worship their god. Employees can take action against this type of discrimination if they have a good enough reason and objective justified (Masselot, 2007). Indirect discrimination can be justified if the employer has reasonably acted on strong business reason.

If any person in the workforce is facing an unacceptable behavior as they are related to a protected characteristic, and that person is disguised or hurt due to this conduct. This type of behavior is known as Harassment. And if any person or colleague of the person is facing harassment as that person helps the aggrieved party (McCrudden, 2007.). Then it would be considered as victimization. Harassed person and colleague have the right to take legal action against this type of unwanted behavior. For example, if a manager teases his employee because of his disability and his colleagues tries to help him out in taking legal action due to this he is denied of promotion. Here, disable person is facing harassment and his colleague is the victim of the case is going through victimization.

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Applicability of legal test

Employment and equality law is developed to provide protection to the employer thus it works less favorably for organization and employers. In order to determine their fault for partiality on the basis of protected characteristic, but for and the reason why test is applied. But for test has been developed from the case preceding of Barnett v Chelsea & Kensington Hospital [1969] 1 QB 428. These tests focus on the cause and consequence of the action of employer for partial behavior. In accordance with this test, if the injury of employee is occurred due to partiality done by employer then liability is imposed on the business to provide damages.

Advantages and disadvantages of Equality act

Pros and Cons of Equality Act, 2010 are as follows:

Equality Act in employment law defines that how the workforce should be treated at work. This act is enforced on the people who are treated differently on the basis of groups they belong rather than their performance in the workplace. It maintains harmony among employer and employees and helps them to strengthen their relationship (McColgan, 2005.). It motivates and encourages the workforce to perform their best as their work will be judged on their skills and abilities. It would create a healthy environment in the company and the targets will be achieved smoothly. It is beneficial for women to take action against injustice. Equality among employees will avoid conflict and group-ism in the office and would create a friendly environment.

Employees are given substantial powers sometimes they take unfair advantage of this act and try to use this advantage against their employer. They sometimes try to impose false allegations on their employer and colleagues because of their personal grudges within them. Equality law is still lagging behind in covering all the aspects of employer and employee. The procedure followed by the aggrieved party to fight for their rights is still complicated and time consuming. Equality law focuses only on groups and not on particular individuals.

9 protected characteristic and purpose of the Act

Protected characteristics are the grounds on which the people face discrimination such as Religion, Sex, Gender, Age, Disability, sexual orientation, pregnancy and maternity and civil partnership. It encourages the active participation of disadvantaged groups in the society and tries to build good relations between people (Schiek and Chege, (Eds.). 2009). In equality law, Age, which means person belonging to a particular age group, for e.g. 18-30 year old? Disability means a person suffering from physical or mental impairment (Schiek, 2005). Gender reassignment is the process of transition from one gender to the other. Marriage and civil partnership, marriage is a union between a man and a woman, but it is no longer restricted to this only. It now includes marriage between a same-sex couple, which is now considered legal in some countries and is known as a civil partnership. Pregnancy and maternity is applied, while a woman employee is pregnant or has given birth. In accordance with this factor, she should be given paid leaves for a month or two by employer. Race means a group of people discriminated by their caste, color, creed, nationality. Religion and belief refers to people who are discriminated on the grounds of religion or belief, including a lack of belief (Barnard, 2012). The act protects both male and female against discrimination on the basis of their sex. Sexual orientation means bisexual, gay or heterosexual people and the act protect them from getting discriminated.

Protected characteristics

Disability

The equality act 2010 provides protection against disability and states that it is unfair to treat a disabled person unfavorably because of any physical or mental impairment. If any person is physically impaired that does not mean he/she is not capable of doing any job (Masselot, 2007). The act has included a provision, that if an employer asks about candidate’s health before offering him/her a job then it is an unlawful act. Disable person has a long-term and substantial adverse effect on its ability to carry out day to day activities. Reasonable adjustments in the workplace have to be made by the employer for a disabled employee to avoid any disadvantage compared to non- disabled employee (Beveridge and Velluti, 2008). For example, the act states that working hours should be adjusted or any type of equipment should be provided to a disabled employee so that they can do his/her job.

Case study: -    Rothwell v Pelikan Hardcopy Scotland Ltd. This case is based on the disability discrimination done by an employer to his employee. The employee or claimant had the Parkinsone disease from a long time. The respondent was an ideal employer and had previously taken care of his employees dealing with any disability. The employee's condition was deteriorating, and the employer's occupational health adviser indicated that the employee would not return to the job and showed him a neurologist’s report. But the neurologist indicated that the employee is in a condition to return to his work if he underwent a new treatment. The occupational health adviser ignored the report and told the employer that the claimant is not fit for the work. The respondent called the meeting with the claimant in order to present the decision made on his future employment. The employee was given the notice that he was to dismiss from his job. The claimant was not happy with the decision made by the employer as he was not consulted for the same, that he was not able to see his medical reports and his own doctor felt that the is for his job and can return to the job.

From the above case it was held that the employer should first consult with the employee regarding his disability and his future employment. Without consulting with the claimant the respondent should not finalize any decision. He should have discussed the report given by the operational health adviser to the claimant prior to the decision to dismiss him from his job.

Sexual orientation

According to the equality act 2010, it is unlawful to discriminate an employee or employer because of sexual orientation. Sexual orientation means: - orientation towards people of the same sex, people of the opposite sex or both same sex and opposite sex. Any employee should not be discriminated as less favorable because of sexual orientation. Any organization should not make provisions or practices which are disadvantageous to employees who are sexually oriented (McCrudden, 2007). It is an illegal act to humiliate any employee because of sexual orientation. The act provides that employers should include sexual orientation in their equality policy and treat those same people as other employees. If any employee is harassed by their colleagues on the grounds of sexual orientation, then that employee has the right to complain to an employment tribunal and legal actions will be taken against them (Baker, Lynch and Cantillon, 2009).

Case study: - Lustig-Prean and Beckett v United Kingdom. The given case is about the discrimination caused to employees against sexual orientation. Lustig-Prean and Beckett were British naval employees who were dismissed from their employment after their homosexuality was discovered. Both the employees declared that the investigation conducted against them violate their privacy rights.

It was held that article 8 which states about the privacy of individuals have been breached. After this case UK government started discharging homosexuals and made sexual orientation legal.

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Conclusion and Recommendation

It can be concluded from the above report that employees should be treated equally and discrimination should be avoided in the workplace (Gustafson, 2015). This report has been presented to create awareness among the employers and employees regarding their rights under the equality act. The act has made special provisions for people who are harassed. They have the right to sue employers or colleagues who are harassing or discriminating them. The positive impact of the equality law has been highlighted in the given study. There are some protected classes of people who are given privilege after the enforcement of this act (Lawson, 2008).  Cases have been described in the report, which state the discrimination caused to the employees and the remedies provided to them by the government. Legal actions will be taken against the employers if found that they are not abiding by the rules and regulations mentioned in the equality act.

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