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New laws to prevent discrimination in the workplace on grounds of ...
New laws to prevent discrimination in the workplace on grounds of

sexual orientation or religion come into force this week. The Sexual

Orientation regulations become law in Great Britain today, 1 December

and the Religion or Belief regulations tomorrow, 2 December.

Jacqui Smith, deputy minister for women and equality said:

'We have long had laws to prevent discrimination in the workplace

against women and on grounds of race - these new measures bring about

much wider equality.

'For the very first time we are making discrimination unlawful on

grounds of sexual orientation, religion or belief in workplaces in

England, Scotland and Wales.

'Unfair discrimination in employment must not be tolerated. People

should not be denied jobs, suffer victimisation or harassment,

because of prejudice.

'It is also damaging for business as they deny themselves access to

the widest pool of talent. A diverse workforce brings benefits - such

as increased motivation, lower turnover of staff, and access to wider


'This new legislation will establish minimum requirements in law so

that people can no longer be denied jobs because of prejudice; so

that harassment can be tackled promptly and effectively; and so that

people have an equal chance of training and promotion, whatever their



1. The Regulations implement strands of the European Employment

Directive (Council Directive 2000/78/EC). The Employment Directive

outlaws discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation, religion or

belief, disability and age in employment and vocational training.

Amendments to the Disability Discrimination Act 1995 implementing the

Directive will come into force in October 2004 and new legislation

outlawing discrimination on grounds of age by the end of 2006.

2. They apply to all employers/businesses whatever their size and

whether in the public or private sector (including the police). They

apply to recruitment, terms and conditions, pay, promotion, transfers

and dismissals.

3. The Regulations apply across Great Britain (England, Scotland and

Wales). Legislation outlawing discrimination on grounds of religion

or belief has been in existence in Northern Ireland already. Separate

Regulations outlawing discrimination on grounds of sexual

orientations are being introduced in Northern Ireland.

4. The Regulations apply throughout the employment/vocational

training relationship - during the recruitment process, in the

workplace/training place, on dismissal and, in certain circumstances,

after the employment/vocational training has finished

5. DTI have been working with key stakeholders to raise awareness of

the new legislation. Acas have produced practical workplace guidance

which offers good practice advice, including possible scenarios and

frequently asked questions. The Acas guidance has been produced

following very extensive consultation with the lesbian, gay and

bisexual (LGB) community through representative groups and the

different faith, belief and secular groups. A wide range of bodies

concerned with employment issues, including the TUC and CBI, have

also been consulted. Acas also runs workshops on the new legislation

to help organisations of all sizes make sure their current policies

and practices are fit for purpose

6. Acas good practice guidance can be downloaded from their website

( Acas operates a telephone helpline (tel: 08457 47

47 47, textphone: 08456 06 16 00) which provides information and

advice across a wide range of employment issues. It also runs an

advice line for employers - Equality Direct: tel: 0845 600 3444,

textphone 08456 06 16 00) offering good practice guidance on fairness

in the workplace.

7. The DTI website has a number of pages dedicated to equality on the

grounds of sexual orientation and religion or belief, including a

plain explanation t he new legislation


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