back to article ToryDems nearly swallow Labour blueprint of equality for all

The former Labour government's Equality Act 2010 mainly came into force today, prompting howls of pain from employers' groups. It's hard to imagine the ToryDems like the whole of the act, but they've decided to lump most of it. Indeed they shelved the original timetable for the act, keeping back key parts they disagree with. …


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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Protected characteristics

    Speaking as a member of a "minority", something about this makes me uncomfortable.

    Where's the logic in preventing harassment based only on a shopping list of "protected characteristics"? True equality would mean giving everyone redress from harassment, for any reason at all, including pure spite.

  2. Tigra 07 Silver badge

    Wake up and smell the gender reassignment

    Treating everyone in your workforce equally costs very little

    Some of these people complaining need a wake up call

  3. Steven Jones

    More work for lawyers...

    Looks like it will keep the legal profession busy, HR pumping out yet more training courses and lots of uncertainty for everybody.

    1. Anonymous Coward

      Hmm, nearly

      I take your point that it needs to be done, but there are lots of hidden expenses that you may be overlooking. For example, depending on the gender reassignment, there may be cause for a third toilet - many women may be upset at sharing a toilet with a man now living as a women (pre-op) for example, rightly or wrongly. The easiest way would be to rebuild into completely private and non-segregated toilets. Breastfeeding women may need a private room assigned to them if they are expressing milk for a child in daycare.

      We're talking what the DDA would call "reasonable adjustments". It may cost "very little" on a per-decision basis, but summing it over the industry and future years, it can become significant. When you introduce regulators (who need paying and a support infrastructure), the costs rise again.

      I should qualify that I absolutely support the need to do it, but let's not dismiss the cost element. It can make or break some small businesses. In my local newsagents (where I worked as a boy), if a breastfeeding mother worked there it would be difficult to provide facilities as there is literally a toilet and a storeroom, which are not ideal areas.

      1. Anonymous Coward

        Nearly and then some

        My sister works for a governemnt department and under the latest gender awareness malarkey her entire section was ordered to go on a gender and transgender awareness day.

        So for a good few hours, 20 or so people were paid by us, to go and sit in a hotel room paid for by us where 2 transgender persons, also paid for by us, regaled them with tales of what it is like being a transgender person today in Britain. You could understand this from an equality of treatment viewpoint, but they then went into great graphic detail about what it means to be transgender, how the operation performed, which parts are chopped off and and how the female parts are made from the outside in male scrotum. People were by this time understandably going pale and a bit green round the giils, but it got worse. They were then invited to imagine what sex might be like with one of the transgender persons commenting to the group that it was really like having sex with a brillo pad.

        Now, I am all for equality of opportunity, and training people to follow fairness in employment, but did they really need to be told in such graphic detail what it was like to have sex with a transsexual in order to understand how to treat someone without discrimination?

        It strikes me, that like everything else, we set upa framework to protect people and immediately vested interests take over and start pushing their own (in this case brillo related) agendas.

        Coat because I feel sullied just relating it to you and need something to hide under.

      2. Tigra 07 Silver badge

        RE: AC

        People having gender reassignment do not need a third toilet created and it may actually be illegal to force them to use it under human rights laws.

        A breastfeeding woman would not have to use a different room and it's actually illegal to ask them to because they have a right to breastfeed where they want.

        They can use a toilet if there's nowhere else available (again no cost incurred on the business)

        "We're talking what the DDA would call "reasonable adjustments". It may cost "very little""

        Well the two examples you gave are incorrect and won't cost anything

        Considering the picture you used AC, there was no technical info there and you actually don't know waht you're talking about.

        1. Anonymous Coward


          I'm talking about a mother *expressing* milk, not directly to the baby, which she may be obliged to do throughout the day (every 3-4 hours). I'm not saying anyone has to be forced to do it privately, I'm saying under these guidelines, she has the right to ask her employees to provide a suitable, sterile environment for her to undertake that task, and that she has the *right* to do it privately. Tell me how a store cupboard or a communal toilet represents a suitable, sterile environment? Note - the milk expressing kit plugs into a wall socket, something a store cupboard or toilet wouldn't have. Working in a large corporation, I've managed a mother return to work in this situation and had to provide this - it's easy here, we have plenty of private rooms that we were able to turn over to her.

          As for gender reassignment, I'm not talking about the original definition, I'm talking about the new one - a biological man living as a woman with no intention of any surgery. A lot of women in the workplace could feel uncomfortable sharing the same toilets. Either way, the options are expensive "awareness courses", or making individual toilets.

          Again, I state that it is the right thing to do, but there are costs involved. And some businesses simply cannot facilate everything.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            The right to ask

            In common with a lot of NuLabour legislation, it makes the right noises but is completely ineffective.

            The right to ask is not the same as the right to have.

            1. Anonymous Coward

              The right to ask

              Try reading this:

              "Breastfeeding mothers need a clean, private place to express and store their milk. Employers are legally required to provide suitable rest facilities for workers who are pregnant or breastfeeding."

              If you *CAN'T* do this, due to size of properties or for whatever reason, you have to suspend her on full pay.

              Again, completely the right thing to do, but don't pretend for a second it's not potentially crippling for an employer.

          2. Cunningly Linguistic
            Thumb Down

            Don't they have fridges in your world?

            I'm sure breast-feeding mums have time to express at home then refrigerate the results. That's how we did it with ours.

      3. fionasboots

        Spread the non-discrimination ...

        "For example, depending on the gender reassignment, there may be cause for a third toilet - many women may be upset at sharing a toilet with a man now living as a women (pre-op) for example, rightly or wrongly. The easiest way would be to rebuild into completely private and non-segregated toilets"

        Building a third toilet would be discriminatory in itself and hopefully not allowed by the legislation - it would force employers to needlessly spend money and reflect the 'blame' onto the wrong group.

        Really, people in the wider world surely don't care about toilet issues anymore? We've done all this now, everyone knows enough about the various flavours of gender and sexuality to not have any hang-ups (or at least to realise that feeling that way is wrong), this just puts a legal frame around it I guess to sort out those employers with influential bigots still hanging around.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      The more loose the wording the more money the lawyers make and the less use the law actually becomes.

      How do you prove spite? Isn't there a risk of any complaint degenerating into "he said" / "she said".

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      probably, it is however change for the better

      One thing for sure this makes the UK discrimination rules in line with USA and EU and specifically on one point which UK managers love to discriminate on - salary.

      Everywhere else in the world you are not allowed to discriminate on salary. Specifically selecting higher pay bracket employees for a cull while leaving lower paid with same job desc is verbotten. So is formulating pay rise and bonus rules which discriminate against higher paid and more experienced employees now qualifies under discrimination statutes.

      Prior to this act doing this was business as usual in UK corporate land to the point where a large number of Fortune 100 companies have such discrimination enshrined in their salary formulae and internal handbooks. I am working in such a company and I am eagerly anticipating the moment I am going to whack my boss with a "deploy lawyer" at next pay rise.

      1. Anonymous Coward

        on the other hand

        Why on earth shouldn't a company be able to reduce it's costs as it likes? Surely the employees work for the company not the other way round??? I agree proper notice + severance should be given of course... BUT a lot of employees moan about lack of loyalty from their company after years of services etc. etc. yet they are often the first to leave given the first whiff of a pay increase somewhere else. You can't have it both ways.

        1. Arctic fox

          And the company is the first to........

          ......shit on them from a very great hight when they "need" to make "efficiency savings".

      2. Arctic fox
        Thumb Up

        Entirely agree.

        It is in fact a fucking disgrace that employers actually feel that they entitled to sack you if you tell anybody what your salary is without their permission! There many _civilised_ European where if the employer tried that on, _he/she_ would end up in court. The thing I really do not understand is the number of lickspittle employees who will actual tell "well, you know, you can understand can't you?" NO I CAN'T! (Apologies for shouting but this kind of thing _really_ pisses me off).

      3. Mark 65 Silver badge

        @AC 11:12

        "Everywhere else in the world you are not allowed to discriminate on salary. Specifically selecting higher pay bracket employees for a cull while leaving lower paid with same job desc is verbotten."

        Dude, you are seriously dreaming. Discrimination goes on and always will, you just have to be smart about the reason given. As for "everywhere else in the World" try coming to Australia and claiming workers rights - you'd be unemployed and on a hiding to nothing especially if you work for the State Government.

    4. This post has been deleted by a moderator

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Simple and accessible

    Probably means completely f**king useless and ineffective.

  5. John Lilburne Silver badge

    Not quite

    [British Chamber of Commerce probably speaks for large parts of the business community]

    Only if you are counting corner shop keepers, and window cleaners.

    1. sabroni Silver badge
      Thumb Up

      why count them?

      Bloody peasants! If you don't have lots of money your opinion is worth nothing!!!

  6. Anonymous Coward

    "Equality for all"

    Well, if it isn't for all, it's not equality is it?

    Unless we go down the Animal Farm route of some are more equal than others...

    1. Sarah Bee (Written by Reg staff)

      Re: "Equality for all"

      No indeed. But when certain people are being discriminated against, and are identifiable as such, this needs correcting and cancelling out. Which can seem like favouritism (and in the worst cases this is what it becomes). But... in and of itself, it isn't. Of course you have to keep in mind that anyone can be a victim of inequality, but you have to start with groups and then get to individuals.

      1. Elmer Phud Silver badge

        Harry Potter and the Chamber of Commerce

        TV news this morning was looking at a woman who was being told she couldn't have flexi-time to look after her disabled son. Othe rwomen in the same firm were getting flexi for other stuff.

        Some pillock from the Chamber of Commerce was dead against this and started bleating about 'recession' and 'this is not the sort of thing we need now in times such as these'

        Yeah, right, what they need are more underpaid and underprotected staff to shag them over in the name of 'business'.

        And what , exactly, do those in the 'Chamber of Commerce' do for a living - they don't seem to have 'real' jobs at all.

        1. Tim Almond

          more details please...

          What job was she doing? What job were other employees doing? What hours did she want off? What hours did other workers take off.

          Flexitime was never meant to be about whether you had to do something important. It was about staff who don't have to be at a desk from 9 to 5 having more flexibility and also employers gained from things like extra coverage.

          Employers aren't charities. If society wants to help the mothers of disabled children then society can do it through charities or benefits. Or alternatively the woman can find a job that suits her needs better.

      2. Cunningly Linguistic

        It's the Gingers I feel sorry for!

        No mention of them in the law.

        Joke icon because I don't feel sorry for them at all :p

      3. The Other Steve

        Yes but

        "Of course you have to keep in mind that anyone can be a victim of inequality, but you have to start with groups and then get to individuals."

        So start with the set of "everyone" and save yourself the time. The really great thing about individual liberties, freedoms or protections is that by their very nature they apply equally to everyone.

        Just sayin'.

  7. Duncan Hothersall

    It's always entertaining

    to read corporate responses to equality legislation. In this instance, the terms "flexibility and freedom" actually refer to the flexibility and freedom to discriminate. Tigra 07 is bang on. Treating people fairly costs very little.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    Curate's egg

    I like the scrapping of secrecy clauses but some of the rest seemingly does little beyond generating work for lawyers.

    1. streaky Silver badge

      Helps the economy

      Don't all laws create work for lawyers by definition? Also creates work for judges, magistrates, clerks, court cleaners, the guys who clamp people outside courts (hah not for long, case in point, see below) etc..

      I don't think "there might be court cases if we enact this law" is a particularly valid reason to not do it frankly. Maybe laws should be expensive to make people think twice about breaking them?

  9. indicator

    So how much do you make then?

    Does this mean that the clause in my companies contracts about keeping your salary a secret is now invalid?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      if your salary is higher than the other employees!

  10. Anonymous Coward

    Where will it end?

    Are incompetent and lazy identified as protected characteristics? These may be as heredity as skin or hair colour

    1. Anonymous Coward

      It will never end!

      The feckless and tardy too, they're heredity characteristics I'm sure.

      Ugly and fat people are not models, that's job discrimination. Also, the uncoordinated should be allowed to be professional sports persons -- it's not fair that I can't play in Premier League, I'm being discriminated against by my lack of talent.

      1. streaky Silver badge


        You should really consider suing your lack of talent if it's discriminating against you.

  11. JaitcH

    Better late than never

    The employers seem to trot out all the same, or similar, arguments that were voiced by their counterparts in North America.

    What is wrong with equal pay for work of equal value? How do same sex couples cost employers or the public purse any more than does a heterosexual couple?

    I have always been struck by various forms of discrimination in Britain. I remember seeing a play in Malvern some years ago where a woman in a library discretely breast fed her child yet she was ordered to leave because of a perceived offence.

    Accept it, this Act's time has come

  12. Anonymous Coward

    How do you get equality?

    By offering additonal protection to groups of people?

  13. Piers

    More divisivness...

    By creating lists like these, we divide society.

    The lists can never be long enough for those not on them.

    By these means we tie ourselves in knots

    and set one against the other.

    Lacking true compassion,

    we substitute rules and regulations,

    changing nothing.

  14. Anonymous Coward

    Ahh the bloody "going to cost us a fortune brigade"

    just like the disabilty act was going to bankrupt every small business in the UK, when it said "resonable steps must be provided"

    That's right, your corner shop had to provide a lift to get to the top shelf, every shop had to employ someone who could do sign language.

    Oh hold on, in realty it mean't if someone in a wheelchair need to get something of a shelf, a shop staff memebr has to help them.

    Or in the case of bank where I used to live, as they couldn't put in a ramp, as it was a grade 2 listed building, it mean't wait for it....a doorbell to get attention so someone could let them in the side entrance.

    Use the likes of Tesco HAVE to have access to the 2nd floor, but Freds shoe shop doesn't.

    And as for webs sites, wow, you have to make it accessable by such difficult things a labeling a picture.

    As usual a lot of bleating about very little.

    Oh on the subject of breastfeeding, you don't have to provide a "special" area, it just means you can't kick them out, a la Primark. long, long overdue.

    Most affected people don't want "special" treatment, they just don't want to be shit on.

    1. CADmonkey

      "resonable steps must be provided"

      i think you mean 'ramp'

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    Agreeing with "Ahh the bloody ... " post

    True, true.

    As soon as the Tories get in power it seems a necessary consequence is: "And if you want a new job you will have to do it on the cheap"-mentality.

  16. John PM Chappell
    Thumb Up

    High costs? Really?

    The only people who stand to incurr a lot of costs are those who are not in compliance with the legislation coming in, most of which is pretty obviously wrong as it stand but which they have been able to get away with thus far because they could marshall a reasonable legal defence. That defence is going. My heart bleeds.

  17. Anonymous Coward

    I disagree

    I started a business a few years ago, Design work mostly, still going from strength to strength, turnover doubling every year. Often think that I could make more if I employed a few people, but what with this and all the other risks involved in the employment minefields, I'll not bother. I'll just use contractors instead. There is no way in hell am I ever going to employ anyone who I see as a potential risk to me or my business, anyone who could potentially litigate against me. I really don't know where people get off with the thought that the world owes them a living. Everyone will end up as a "contractor", no sick pay, no holiday pay, shite pension. Finished when we say say so. Welcome to your brave new world.

    You can have all the rights under the sun, but if you have no job, or prospect of one then enjoy keeping warm and fed with your useless rights. Meanwhile competitive business buggers off to the lowest labour cost markets. I do hear that Lawyers and HR people will be taking on domestic staff, could be a chance for you there.

    1. alex dekker 1

      RE: I disagree

      You forgot to include the words "hell" and "handcart". Better luck next time.

    2. streaky Silver badge

      Omfg with the titles...

      If you think contractors can't sue you for discrimination, health and safety law et al you're out of your mind.

  18. Anonymous Coward

    A very cunning plan indeed

    Methinks this is a masterstroke. The government plans to slash all sorts of benefits. But what to do with all the work shy malcontents that where "better off" on the dole. Easy! Create a system where it could be very costly not to employ them. Bad attendance record? No problem, they can't ask about that. Poor health due to pork pies and drink? They can't ask you either. So just try your best to get through the interview and then go on the sick or be "offended" when they actually ask you to do something. They'll be terrified to sack you, so just sit back and relax, you can be a malingerer at work. Government don't have to fork out for you now and private enterprise will be too scared to sack you. You could even make a killing by just going for the interview. Not get the job? They "offended you" Kerching! You are in the money.

    Companies should be free to employ who they choose at whatever rate they want. Don't like it? Then move! or start your own company up!

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    If you own a business and you don't like anti-discriminations laws

    If you own a business and you don't like anti-discriminations laws, I wonder why that would be? Surely if you don't already discriminate it will cost you exactly £0 in real terms if you forget about some one off costs like training staff about the new law? Yeah maybe you might have a staff member who will use the laws against you in a tribunal because they a trouble maker trying to screw you but if they are like that they would use whatever ammo they had anyway with or without the law.

    Seriously if this issue worries you, I wonder why that would be. "Oh I need a third toilet" hahaha!

  20. Robert Hill


    A close friend of mine is a GP, and he is going bankrupt (and his practice) over his decision to remove a salaried doctor that he inherited with the practice. This person is lackadaisical, dishonest, and provably took maternity leave at full rate WHILE working 20 hours a week at a competing medical practice! Then she claims a fifth week of holiday with pay - despite having only 4 weeks in her contract!

    So he initiated dismissal. It has dragged on over a year now - with she and her lawyers deploying every trick in the book. She claimed TWO types of discriminations (she is a minority, and a mom!), and then claimed that my friend's medical practices were against code. So, the medical council orders an investigation by an outside doctor..which my friend easily wins. But HE has to pay for the investigation - at £15,000! What does she do - she raises MORE allegations, and appeals - another cost of £15,000 to him for the appeal! Which he wins, but he has just lost £30,000 in income for the year. He fires his cleaner, cancels his gym, and sells his car.

    The saga is not yet over, as an employment tribunal has refused to hold against her because - get this - "we believe that she stole from the practice by taking the extra holiday which is clearly not in her contract, but to dismiss her would MAKE HER UNEMPLOYABLE IN MEDICINE WHICH WE FEEL IS TOO HARSH." So my friend lost his dismissal, still has her on the books getting paid, and NOW must pay her legal fees - about £20,000. And after all that, he will in the end have to pay her to leave - probably 6-12 full months of salary to reach a compromise agreement.

    THIS is what employers fear - it's not that they really, really want to discriminate and eek out a few extra quid (by and large). It is the impossibility of even removing someone that is provably dishonest, and detrimental to your business - but who can claim "DISCRIMINATION" at the drop of hat - which now is everyone that is NOT male, white, and straight.

    Frankly, having watched this whole saga unfold this past year...I just don't see much hope for English small business...

  21. Mark 65 Silver badge


    "Employers can be held responsible for third party harassment, eg of frontline staff by customers"

    So if I work in a call centre and someone phones up and gives me a serve of what a useless c*nt I am then that's my employer's fault?

    I do see a way to make BT pay for all its woeful inadequacies here.

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