The Equality Act 2010 was a long time in the making, beginning life in the form of the Discrimination Law Review which began its work back in 2005. Its aim was to simplify and harmonise the complicated web of legislation that had emerged over the previous thirty or so years in response to a growing recognition of the corrosive effects that discrimination in its various guises has on our society. When the Act finally made it onto the statute book in April 2010 it was hailed as a major landmark; providing for the first time comprehensive anti-discrimination legislation that provides a solid platform from which to tackle discrimination based on disability, gender and gender identity, race, religion or belief, sexual orientation and crucially from Age UK’s perspective, age. However there was also a widespread recognition on the part of all those who champion greater equality that this was where the real work had to begin. For the law to be effective a major effort was now needed to make sure that everyone; employers and employees, businesses and customers, service providers and clients, all understood how the law worked and how greater equality would benefit them and their organisations.
Against this backdrop the Government’s decision to include the Equality Act in its Red Tape Challenge initiative, which aims to identify regulations that hurt businesses, hinder economic recovery and should therefore be scrapped, has been greeted with a certain degree of apprehension. Describing primary legislation that was designed specifically to harmonise and simplify equality law in the language of bureaucracy and burden is hugely detrimental to efforts Age UK is making to help businesses recognise the benefits of tackling age discrimination which stands in the way of them accessing the ‘golden market’. It is also questionable whether now is the best time for this review, before all the provisions of the Act, including vital measures to outlaw harmful age discrimination in the provision of goods and services, have even been implemented. Continue reading
On 3 March the Government Equalities Office (GEO) announced that it will implement the ban on harmful age discrimination in the provision of goods and services that is set out in the Equality Act 2010. The ban, which is something Age UK and its predecessor charities campaigned long and hard for, will come into effect in 2012. This is very welcome news and represents a major stride forward in the fight against age discrimination.
Alongside this announcement the GEO has also published a consultation setting out its proposals for exemptions to the legislation. These are needed to ensure that where age is used as a beneficial criterion, for example to provide older people with concessionary entrance fees to museums, that this can continue. The proposals on exemptions are very much a tale of two sectors.