Tuesday, 06 April 2010 05:33

Proposed Employment Law Change

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Proposed changes to the Sex Discrimination Act ("SDA") 1975 and the Equal Pay Act ("EPA") 1970 under the amended Equal Treatment Directive (2002/73/EC) will be implemented on 1 October 2005. To ensure that your company's policies comply with these proposed reforms please contact us at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

The proposed changes to the law will be applicable to all employers and providers of vocational training:

As of 1 October 2005, there will be a new definition of indirect sex discrimination in employment matters and vocational training. Indirect sex discrimination will occur when an apparently neutral provision, criterion or practice that applies to all workers or applicants causes particular disadvantage to certain sections of women or men. To avoid or succeed against a complaint of indirect sex discrimination, an employer will have to justify that a provision, criterion, practice or policy that it employs, and which causes such disadvantage, meets a business aim and is an appropriate means of meeting this aim.

For the first time, there will be a cause of action under the SDA for harassment on the grounds of the complainant's sex. The new provision will apply to the areas of employment and vocational training only. New explicit provisions will be included to ensure that women are protected from discrimination on the grounds of pregnancy.

The geographical coverage in the SDA and EPA have been extended, so they now cover employees who work for British organisations outside Great Britain (GB) in relation to recruitment, terms and conditions, pay, promotion, transfers and dismissals.

An employer will have the right to refuse to offer a particular job to someone who was intending to undergo, was undergoing or had undergone gender reassignment. However, such a refusal must now be reasonable. The SDA protection will be extended to cover vocational guidance and unpaid practical work experience.

The SDA will be amended to prescribe an eight-week time limit for the employer or training organisation, for example, to return the questionnaire in cases of discrimination or harassment in employment and vocational training. The proposed changes to the law applicable to certain employers, certain providers of vocational training and those who appoint office holders:

An exception in the SDA, which permitted partnerships and trade unions to discriminate on grounds of sex in the provision of death and retirement benefits to their partners and members respectively, will be removed. There will now be further protection against discrimination for office holders.

Ministers of religion will now be protected by the SDA, not only where they are employees, but also where they are office holders. If you require further information contact us.

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