The government last week announced another raft of employment law changes, this time in the field of equality, as part of its apparently endless Red Tape Challenge.

The measures announced include:

  • a consultation on repealing the law on third party harassment under section 40 of the Equality Act 2010, so that employers are no longer liable for the harassment of an employee by a third party, such as a customer
  • a review of the public sector equality duty under section 149 of the Act, which places a legal obligation on public bodies to consider the impact of their decisions on different groups
  • repealing the socio-economic duty in section one of the Act (never brought into force), which placed a legal obligation on public bodies to consider the impact of their decisions on social class
  • a consultation on repealing the power of employment Tribunals under section 124(3) of the Act to make 'wider recommendations' such as recommending the introduction of policies or making changes to policies that affect all staff, not just the employee who brought the case
  • a consultation on scrapping what the government calls “bureaucratic information-gathering procedures” under section 138 of the Act which allowed claimants to collect information, using a statutory questionnaire.
  • working with the British Chambers of Commerce to help small-and-medium-sized companies understand what they do and don't need to do to comply with the Equality Act.

The government also published its response to the consultation on reforming the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC), including:

  • The repeal of some of the EHRC's powers and duties under the Equality Act 2006 “to help it focus on its core functions”
  • A complete review of the EHRC's budget to be completed this autumn
  • The appointment of a new chairperson and a new, smaller board
  • The imposition of tighter financial controls so that the EHRC “complies with government-wide spending rules” including controls on recruitment, consultancy and marketing.


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The consultations close on 7 August 2012.