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UK discrimination law review: Equality law forecast

  • United Kingdom
  • Employment law


May 2017

What to expect Impact on employers
The Gov’t is consulting on whether the Equality Act 2010 should be amended to explicitly cover caste discrimination. Employers may need to adapt internal policies in due course if the law is changed, although we would not expect that to happen before 2018.
Court of Appeal judgment due on when it is appropriate to discipline someone for speaking about their religion at work. The case could provide useful guidance on how far religious freedom extends.
New Gov’t likely to consult on law changes promised in election manifesto. We are most likely to see action on disability discrimination and ethnicity pay gaps.
Before the end of the year the Supreme Court is likely to decide whether survivors’ benefits for same-sex civil partners (and, by extension, same-sex married partners) must take account of service accrued before 5 December 2005 (when sexual orientation discrimination became unlawful). According to reports, the Gov’t has estimated that the cost to private and public sector pension schemes or equalising benefits could run to £3 billion.
The Supreme Court will give its ruling on Unison’s legal challenge against ET fees (heard in March). If the legal challenge succeeds employers should expect claim numbers to rise. In any event, plans to abolish fees in Scotland, after control of the ET system is devolved, may result in more Scottish claims, some because of ‘forum shopping’.
The EAT is to hear appeals in cases involving discrimination challenges to judicial and firefighters' pension scheme changes. The decision could have far-reaching consequences across other public service pension schemes where similar transitional provisions were adopted. It is also likely to be of interest to private sector schemes, offering insight into the standards which must be met to justify age related differences in pension provision.
Thousands of female shop floor workers have brought equal pay claims against ASDA and Sainsbury’s claiming same pay as male workers in distribution centres. The cases could run on for years. Some other large supermarkets are also facing claims and other retailers could be at risk.
The deadlines for relevant employers to publish 2017 gender pay data are 30 March 2018 for affected public sector employers and 4 April 2018 for those in the private and third sectors. Employers should prepare now, with pay audits and communication plans. Read our gender pay gap reporting briefing.
The Gov’t will have to implement the Accessibility Directive by September 2018. The Directive concerns the accessibility of public bodies' websites and mobile apps to people with disabilities Affected authorities should keep an eye out for the new rules, although most UK bodies are likely to be compliant already.

NB This update covers England, Wales and Scotland. It does not cover developments that apply only in Northern Ireland.


Gov't The Government
CJEU The Court of Justice of the European Union
CA Court of Appeal
ET Employment Tribunal
EAT Employment Appeal Tribunal

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