If you are a woman being paid less than a man, from Friday (October 1) your employer will no longer be able to take action against you for talking to your colleagues or union about your salary.
The change, which makes it easier for women to find out if they have a claim for equal pay, is one of a host of new protections that come into force under the Equality Act 2010.
The new Equality Act brings together more than 100 separate pieces of legislation into one single Act, simplifying the law and strengthening it in key areas to help tackle discrimination and inequality.
Equality South West chief executive Paul Dunn told the PRSD: “The Equality Act 2010 helps employers to focus on an individual’s talents and abilities, and value people for what they are and what they can do, rather than on the colour of their skin, their sexual orientation or any impairments they may have.”
But he noted that around 10 per cent of the Act, which gained Royal Assent in April, was not coming into force on Friday.
For example, Section 78, which enables the Government to force employers to publish details about their gender pay gap, is not being implemented yet. The Government has said it is looking at how the rest of the Act could be implemented in the best way for business.
Paul urged ministers not to delay any further. He said: “People have a right to full protection from discrimination and harassment.”
He also regretted the decision by the South West Improvement and Efficiency Partnership to freeze the final portion of funding for its local government Equality Programme, after the Government asked it to look again at priorities for the remaining funds.
He said: “We understand the difficulties faced by the Partnership in the context of the most challenging public finance settlement in a generation but it is disappointing that a programme aimed at helping create a more equal and a fairer society has been axed in this way.”
The new Equality Act covers the same groups that were protected by existing equality laws – age, disability, gender reassignment, race, religion or belief, sex, sexual orientation, marriage and civil partnership and pregnancy and maternity – but extends some protections to groups not previously covered and also strengthens particular aspects of equality law.
(from a press release)