Check HR Policies to Comply with Equality Act

The Equality Act: What’s new for employers?Small businesses should review their employment policies to make sure they comply with the new Equality Act, when it is introduced on the 1st October Common Commencement Date (CCD).

That’s the message from employment law experts, who are advising SMEs to get to grips with changes in discrimination regulations as a result of the new law.

The Equality Act, being introduced as part of the 1 October CCD – one of two dates a year when new business regulations come into force – brings together all equality regulations into a single piece of legislation.

Managing director of employment law firm Irenicon, Annabel Kaye, said that one of the other main changes is individuals will be able to claim under "associative discrimination" if they are associated with someone within any protected group.

“For example, if I live with a black man and someone makes negative comments about women who live with black men. At present, this only covers individuals associated with disabled people.”

“Businesses should update their equal opportunities policy – for example, by bringing together your policies on different types of discrimination.”

Conciliation service Acas has published guidance for businesses, including the guide The Equality Act: What’s new for employers? (PDF), on its website.

“The guidance highlights the differences you need to be aware of – in particular, what is meant by ‘protected characteristics’, the impact of harassment and other areas such as the prohibition of pre-employment health checks and pay secrecy.”

said Acas’s head of equality, Steve Williams.

“Businesses may have felt that existing equality legislation was inconsistent between the various equality acts. The new Act unifies the previous nine acts together into one Equality Act. The intention is to help businesses more readily understand equality.”

The National Minimum Wage (NMW) is also changing as a result of the CCD. From 1 October, you should pay NMW staff:

  • £5.93 an hour if they are 21 or over
  • £4.92 an hour if they are aged 18-20
  • £3.64 an hour if they are aged 16-18

Apprentices will also be entitled to receive at least £2.50 an hour from now on.

If you need equality training or free advice, call the Acas helpline on 08457 47 474 47

Check HR Policies to Comply with Equality Act

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