The Government has, this week, published its long awaited Equality Bill. It is expected to receive Royal Assent in spring 2010, with most provisions coming on line in October 2010.

The main provisions include:

  1. Putting a new duty on the Government and key public bodies to consider what action they can take to reduce the socio-economic inequality people face when making strategic decisions about spending and services.
  2. Requiring employers with 250 or more employees and public bodies with more than 150 employees to report on the gender pay gap, but not before 2013.
  3. Outlawing secrecy clauses in contracts that “gag” employees from discussing their pay. 
  4. Banning age discrimination against people aged 18 and over outside the workplace, where goods are bought, and services provided, such as in shops, hospitals, and when buying financial products.
  5. Allowing employers to choose to take positive action to appoint a person from an under-represented group, provided candidates are equally suitable, if they want to. Positive discrimination will remain illegal. 
  6. Banning private members’ clubs from discriminating against members or their guests, although same sex clubs, gay associations, clubs for people of a particular religion, etc, will still be allowed.
  7. Replacing current duties on public bodies with a new streamlined and strengthened equality duty, which will be extended to also cover sexual orientation, gender reassignment, age, and religion or belief, so that people get fairer opportunities and better public services. 
  8. Making it clear that public bodies can use procurement to drive equality when they are buying goods and services from private sector firms. This will be consulted on over the summer.
  9. Strengthening the powers of employment tribunals;
  10. Extending the law that bans discrimination by association. 
  11. Strengthening protection from discrimination for disabled people.