Acas, the employment relations service, has published new guidance to assist businesses in understanding and preparing for the changes to the new single Equality Act. The new Acas quick start guidance, ‘The Equality Act – what’s new for employers?’ demonstrates what these changes mean in practice.
John Taylor, chief executive of Acas, said: “Fairness in the workplace is good business and motivates staff as well as improving effectiveness and productivity. Last year Acas received around 32,000 calls on diversity and discrimination related issues. Our new guide helps businesses and managers understand what the changes mean in practice and what action employers will need to take.”
Changes have occurred in the following areas: third party harassment, pre-employment health checks, power of employment tribunal recommendations and pay secrecy.
The new act means employers are potentially liable if their staff are harassed by people they don’t employ such as external suppliers or customers.
F r o m October employers should no longer send out pre-health questionnaires with employment application packs. There are some exemptions, for example around questions related to making reasonable adjustments for the person in the selection process if they are disabled.
Employment tribunals can require employers found guilty of discrimination to take steps to require them to change their policies and practices to prevent further discrimination.
If a contract of employment requires employees to keep pay secret, the Equality Act makes this requirement unenforceable. An employer can still require employees to keep pay rates confidential f r o m others outside the workplace, such as competitors.