Thu 18 Jan 2024

Winter Equality News Round Up

We cover recent equality related news that you may have missed.

Equality Act amended to preserve EU derived discrimination protections.

The Equality Act 2010 (Amendment) Regulations 2023 came into force on 1 January 2024 and are intended to reproduce into domestic law certain aspects of EU law that might have otherwise fallen away at the end of 2023 as a consequence of the effect of the Retained EU Law (Revocation and Reform) Act 2023.  These cover direct discrimination related to pregnancy, maternity and breastfeeding; particular aspects of both direct and indirect discrimination and equal pay; and the definition of disability.  For more detail on this see Equality Act amended to reproduce EU derived discrimination protections.

New family friendly protections in force from April 2024

April 2024 will see a significant raft of "family friendly" rights and protections coming into force.  This includes the right to request flexible working becoming a day 1 right with affect from 6 April and, although it is not yet confirmed, it is also expected that the changes to the right to request flexible working regime will also take effect in April.  The extended protections from redundancy for pregnant women and new parents are also due to take effect in April, as are changes to make paternity leave more flexible.  Finally the new right to unpaid carer's leave is also to come into force on 6 April.  For more detail on all these new rights see Multiple family friendly rights in force from 6 April.

Call for views on proposed removal of definition of "woman" from Gender Representation on Public Boards (Scotland) Act 2018

Following the judgment of the Inner House of the Court of Session in 2022 that the definition of woman in the Gender Representation on Public Boards (Scotland) Act 2018 ("the 2018 Act") goes beyond the legislative competence of the Scottish Parliament (because it purported to expand the definition of "woman" in the Equality Act 2010) a call for views on its proposed removal from the 2018 Act has opened.  The call for views, opened by the Equalities Human Rights and Civil Justice Committee of the Scottish Parliament, invites comments on the Scottish Government's position that there are no suitable alternative approaches to removing the definition.  The call for views closes on 29 January 2024.

Guidance on public sector equality duty published

The UK Government published non statutory guidance for public authorities on the Public Sector Equality Duty in December 2023.  The duty is found in sections 149 to 156 of the Equality Act 2010.  It requires listed public authorities and other bodies carrying out public functions to have due regard to certain equality considerations when exercising certain of their functions.  It ensures these organisations consider how these functions will affect people with different protected characteristics.  The new guidance replaces 2011 "Quick Start" guidance.  It is intended to help decision-makers comply with the duty, although does not cover those elements of the duty that apply only to Scottish or Welsh public authorities under devolved powers

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