1.1 Summarise current legislation relating to equality

Course: NVQ Level 4 Diploma In Health And Social Care (RQF)

Unit 4: Equality and diversity in health, social care, or children’s and young people’s settings

LO1: Understand equality, diversity, and inclusion

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1.1 Summarise current legislation relating to equality

There are a number of pieces of legislation in the UK that relate to equality. The Equality Act 2010 is the main piece of legislation that covers discrimination on the grounds of sex, race, religion, disability, sexual orientation, and gender identity. The act protects people from being treated unfairly or unlawfully because of these protected characteristics.

Other important pieces of legislation include the Race Relations Amendment Act 2000, which prohibits discrimination on the grounds of race, ethnicity, and national origin; and the Disability Discrimination Act 1995, which prohibits discrimination on the grounds of disability.

What are the origins of current legislation? Which bodies were involved in formulation?

The Equality Act 2010 is the result of merging nine different pieces of discrimination legislation into one act. The impetus for this was a major review by the Commission for Equalities and Human Rights, carried out between 2004-2007. Prior to that time, there had been no consolidated piece of legislation on discrimination. The Commission for Racial Equality, the Equal Opportunities Commission and the Disability Rights Commission were all separate organisations with specific remits to look at issues relating to race, gender and disability respectively.

How does current legislation relate to equality?

The various pieces of legislation that were merged into the Equality Act 2010 were all about making sure that no one is discriminated against because of their race, gender, belief or any other protected characteristic. It also makes sure that people are not disadvantaged because of these characteristics either.

For example, if someone wanted to apply for a job as a rapper, it would be unlawful for them to be turned down purely on the basis that they are white. Similarly, it would be unlawful for someone to be denied promotion purely because of their gender – unless the job involved carrying out work overseas that was unsuitable for women.

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What are the differences between current legislation?

Since each piece of discrimination legislation covered different characteristics, there were inevitably some differences in the way the law dealt with these different issues. For example, the act dealing with race had provisions for positive discrimination in certain circumstances, while the Disability Discrimination Act allowed disabled people to be treated more favourably than non-disabled applicants when applying for jobs.

The Equality Act replaced all of this legislation and has much simpler rules on how employers should deal with their employees based on gender, race or any other protected characteristic.

How effective is current legislation? Have there been problems with its implementation?

The Equality Act 2010 has so far not caused any major issues for employers. The act makes it much easier for employers to see what they can and cannot do when dealing with their employees. For example, an employer cannot discriminate in recruitment or promotion based on any of the protected characteristics, with some exceptions for looking after the interests of the business. If an employer does discriminate against employees because of their gender, race, age or any other characteristic, they are likely to be taken to an employment tribunal if their employee files a claim against them.

What are the most significant changes to current legislation?

The Equality Act 2010 is a completely rewritten piece of legislation that replaces nine different pieces of existing equality legislation. It has been over 15 years since the last major review and now, with a change in government, it was felt necessary to have a complete overhaul of this area of law. This new act should make it easier for employers to deal with the issue of equality and discrimination, as well as ensuring that employees are treated fairly.

The new Equality Act will also give employers more freedom to handle some issues relating to how they work such as flexible working requests from their employees. This will be achieved by removing unnecessary red tape that was often blamed for tying employers up in lots of paperwork.

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In what ways does current legislation affect employers?

Under the Equality Act 2010, the main areas where employers will be affected are:

  • Employment and recruitment it will be unlawful for an employer to discriminate against their employees or applicants based on a protected characteristic. Some exceptions apply for looking after the interests of the business and dealing with the need for any reasonable adjustments.
  • Promotion and training – it will also be unlawful for an employer to discriminate in how they treat their employees in terms of promotion or training based on a protected characteristic. Again, there are some exceptions for when dealing with the interests of the business.
  • Discrimination by third parties – although employers themselves cannot discriminate against their employees-discrimination of LGBTI people by third parties (e.g. customers) is still unlawful under the Equality Act 2010.
  • Discrimination arising from disability – since disability by its very nature can affect anyone in the workplace, employers will need to make reasonable adjustments for their employees who are disabled or have a long term medical condition.

The law is based on the legislative framework which includes both local as well as national actions such that it promotes equality for all employees across different companies around this country by adhering strictly to these principles through various initiatives like monitoring & auditing systems etc., so your organization’s guidelines should match what you would expect from any company with similar values!

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