Two forms of enforcing rights under Equality Act:
· Strategic Enforcement
· Individual Enforcement
Entrusted to Equality and Human Rights Commission. Commission created 1st Oct 2007, absorbed 3 existing bodies; equal opportunities commission, disability Rights commission and commission for Race equality. Equality and Human Rights Commission broader in scope that 3 previous commissions; embraced other protected characteristics under the Equality Act. Provides support and guidance on issues of human rights and discrimination
Aim of Equality and Human Rights Commission
Its aims are to:
- · Enforce the law
- · Influence the development of the law and government policy
- · Promote good practice
- · Campaigns, events and communications
- · Foster better relationships
- · Develop understanding and evidence
Commission has faced Problems:
· Faced resistance from some quarters; especially employers
· Has a huge remit over 7 different areas
· Been criticised for paying £325’000 to re-employ senior staff who had accepted redundancy packages
· Faced cuts
Impact on law’s ability to prevent unjustifiable discrimination?
Commission may not be focused on issues, cuts may impact on work, some groups within commission may be given prominence over others.
Most complaints will be brought in employment tribunals. Complaint usually has to be made within 3 months of date to which complaint relates. If tribunal finds there has been a contravention of a provision, it may:
· Order respondent to pay compensation: no upper limit of amount in discrimination claims
· Make appropriate recommendations (government looking to get rid of this ability)
· Make a declaration as to the rights of the complainant and respondent in relation to the complaint.
The ability to make recommendations introduced by Equality Act. Recommendation is to take steps within certain amount of time to reduce the effect of cause of complaint on either the complainant or the work force. Recommendation not binding.
Problems in Bringing a Claim to an Employment Trib
· Takes time
· Backlog of cases
· Delay in processing claims
· No state funding to get representation at tribunal; and discrimination law is technical, a lawyer is needed.
· An accusatorial system adopted, much like court.
· Tribunal is limited in help can give applicant; must be seen as impartial
· A surge of cases is predicted to swamp tribunals as new law on discrimination by perception is tested.
2011/2012: Employment Tribunal statistics released by the Ministry of Justice: show total number of claims received relating to employment claims; they fell by 15% to 186,300. Figures regarding discrimination showed general reduction in numbers as follows:
- · Highest number of discrimination claims; sex discrimination; 10,800 claims, compared to 18,300 in 2010/2011
- · Disability discrimination claims; rose from 7,200 to 7,700
- · Number of age discrimination complaints; down from 6,800 to 3,700
- · Racial discrimination claims: 5,000 to 4,800
- · Sexual orientation and religious discrimination claims relatively low; 610, 940 respectively.
Reasons for drop in claims ?
· Expense of bringing claim
· Employers are less discriminatory?
· People scared of losing their job in current economic climate.