The Government recently announced further amendments to the Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Bill in relation to equal pay audits and equalities. These amendments have been announced in advance of the Bill’s report stage and third reading which was due to take place on 16 and 17 October 2012.
The proposed amendments to the Bill give employment tribunals the power to order employers to undertake pay audits where they are found guilty of gender discrimination in relation to pay matters (whether contractual or non-contractual). It is also suggested that the tribunal should be able to make recommendations for the benefit of the wider workforce and be able to award costs or expenses to litigants in person.
The Bill also proposes amendments to the Equality Act 2010 to repeal those provisions which make employers liable for harassment of their employees by third parties. It is considered that other provisions within the Act still provide protection for employees if they can successfully argue that an employer’s inaction in relation to third party harassment relating to a protected characteristic violates their dignity and creates a hostile and offensive environment for the employee. There is also a proposal that those provisions of the Act relating to discrimination questionnaires are repealed as they are considered to be “prescriptive and potentially threatening to employers”.