first_img Comments are closed. Sole equality body has to clarify the new lawsOn 5 Nov 2002 in Personnel Today Related posts:No related photos. HR professionals have welcomed plans for a single equality body saying ithas a vital role to play in helping employers comply with complex new diversitylaws. A consultation document, Equality and Diversity: Making It Happen, releasedlast week, outlines proposals for a ‘one-stop-shop’ equality body to replacethe three existing commissions. A single equality rights commission would offer integrated support andguidance for empl-oyers, said equality minister Barbara Roche at the launch ofthe consultation. Roche said bringing equal opportunities, disabled rights and racial equalitytogether in one body would promote a more coherent approach to tacklingdiversity issues. Keith Handley, CIPD vice-president for diversity, said: “The newanti-discriminatory legislation on religion and sexual orientation will makeequality issues extre-mely confusing for employers. “A single body will help and has to be the way forward, but needs to bemore business focused,” he said. While Fiona Bartels-Ellis, diversity manager at the British Council believesthat an equality commission would be able to provide much- needed guidance, sheis concerned that some issues will be given too little priority. “A single equality body has potential provided it does not lose itsfocus on specific areas of diversity,” she said. Equality legislation has to be right for a single commission to beeffective, said Beverley Bernard, acting chair at the Commission for RacialEquality. “If the Government changes Britain’s equality institutions withoutgetting the legislation right it will severely limit the chances of any newbody delivering equality. It is essential that change is driven by principlesand by a vision of equality, rather than by administrative convenience,”she said. A separate consultation was also released last week outlining new laws thatwill ban discrimination on the grounds of belief and sexual orientation by2003, and age by 2006. A single body would also cover these areas. By Quentin ReadeHave your say in the debate– HR has until 21 February 2003 torespond to the consultation on a single equality body. The paper is calledEquality and Diversity: Making it Happen – HR has until 24 January to contribute to the consultation onthe new laws banning discrimination at work on the grounds of religion, beliefand sexual orientation.Both papers can be accessed on www.dti.gov.uk/er/equalityFeedback from the professionNicola Swan, equality anddiversity director at Barclay Group, said: “It is logical to put thestrands together, but the effectiveness of the resulting body is more importantthan its structure. A lot of employers have good relation-ships with theexisting commissions. I hope the changes will not affect this.”Stephen Lloyd, head of diversityservices at the Grass Roots Group, said: “In principle it’s a good ideabut my concern is that all of the areas of diversity must carry equal weight. Iwould want robust safeguards put in place to ensure disability would receiveequal attention as race and gender.”Sam Mercer, director ofcampaigns at Employers Forum on Age, said: “There are lots of proposals inthe consultation that we welcome, but I am concerned there were no otheroptions presented than a single equality body. We need to look at what does anddoesn’t work in commissions before setting up models.” Previous Article Next Articlelast_img read more