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Discrimination law

Discrimination law review: May 2017

Welcome to the latest edition of our equality law update. Our aim is to keep you up to date with recent and forthcoming key developments to help you manage your diversity and equality challenges. We do hope you find it useful. Please do not hesitate to contact us if you wish to find out more.

General election

With the election looming, the main political parties have now published their manifestos. Equality-related pledges from the Conservatives include: stronger disability discrimination protection for people with mental health issues; extending gender pay reporting and expanding it to cover ethnicity pay gaps; a new right to carer’s leave; national insurance breaks for those who employ people with disabilities; and possible law changes to improve disabled access to licensed premises, parking and housing. Meanwhile, the Labour party promises include: extended public sector equality duties; equal pay audit requirements on ethnicity grounds; protection against discrimination related to gender identity and terminal illness; longer paternity leave; and the abolition of employment tribunal fees. More HR-related manifesto pledges are outlined in this article.

Gender pay gap

Legislation is now in force obliging larger employers to publish data about their gender pay gap. In this note we answer some frequently asked questions about the new reporting regime.

Supreme Court considers indirect discrimination

Last month the Supreme Court gave guidance on the concept of indirect discrimination, clarifying some difficult aspects of the law. Read more in this article.

Supreme Court upholds wheelchair user’s claim against bus company

Earlier this year, the Supreme Court ruled that a bus company discriminated when a wheelchair user was unable to travel because the wheelchair space was occupied by another passenger. In this article we look at the implications of the decision in more detail.

Disability or not? Stress and type two diabetes under the spotlight

In this article we look at two recent cases in which the Employment Appeal Tribunal has considered the legal definition of disability in the context of two issues of ever-increasing significance in the workplace: stress and type two diabetes.

Self-employed plumber qualified for discrimination protection

In the latest in a string of recent cases considering employment status, the Court of Appeal upheld an Employment Tribunal’s decision that a plumber was entitled to protection from discrimination, and holiday pay, notwithstanding that he was self-employed for tax purposes. The judgment serves as a useful reminder that even self-employed contractors can have workplace rights. In this article we look at the case in more detail.

Caste discrimination consultation

The government has launched its long awaited consultation on caste discrimination. The consultation seeks views on whether additional measures are needed to ensure victims of caste discrimination have appropriate legal protection and effective remedies under the Equality Act 2010. The consultation runs until 18 July and can be found on the website of the Government Equality Office.

EU news

The EU Commission is proposing a Directive that will, if it becomes law, extend parental leave rights and introduce EU wide rights to carer's leave, paternity leave, and for parents to request flexible work arrangements. The Directive is unlikely to be approved before the UK leaves the EU but its influence might still be felt in the UK post-Brexit.

The EU’s Court of Justice ruled in the cases of Achbita and Bougnaoui that it will not necessarily be discriminatory for an employer to have a consistently applied rule prohibiting the visible wearing of any political, philosophical or religious sign by customer-facing staff where the aim is to project an image of neutrality towards customers. Such a policy could still be unlawful if a tribunal considers it to be disproportionate. Caution is needed as the CJEU’s ruling sits uncomfortably with the decision of the European Court of Human Rights in the case of Eweida.

Equality forecast

Finally, read our outline of other discrimination law developments that are in the pipeline.