About the conference
The Update on Equalities conference focussed on the Equality Act as passed in October, outstanding sections of the Act which have yet to be passed and a broader approach to equalities throughout society and in the workplace. 2010 marked the 4th annual equalities conference.
We opened with Keynote Speeches from Baroness Northover and John Wadham from the Equalities and Human Rights Commission John Wadham, the group Director Legal spoke about the role of the Commission in relation to the Act and cuts. He addressed the the Commission’s Code of Practice and Enforcement powers Baroness Northover meanwhile outlined Liberal Democrat commitment to the Equality Act.
Prof Aileen McColgan outlined a critical analysis of the Equality Act. Aileen outlined positive action with a particular emphasis on the exceptions while relating the important unfinished work on equal pay. Aileen gave a bold conclusion to her presentation with the lost opportunities in the act, highlighting the individualistic approach, the implementation of the EA and the critical failure of the Act to address unequal pay .
Victoria Phillips of Thompsons Solicitors began her analysis of Gender Pay Transparency by outlining how the Act would provide the framework for a fairer future while critiqueing how transparency is felt in public and private sectors. In the same week that the Fawcett Society lost their judicial review of the Coalition Government’s budget, Victoria higlighted the broken pledges of the government to end discrimination in the workplace. The axing of Section 78 of the EA by the Government’s Equalities Office further highlighted the struggle for equal pay. The Institute will be examining Equal Pay in a one day conference in February. You can book places “here”:https://secure.gn.apc.org/ier/ledger.php?it=Equal+Pay+at+40=£90 .
Diana Holland focussed further on government failure to address the needs of disabled workers in discussing how cuts would further disadvantage disabled workers from access to work itself and accessing justice in the workplace.
How the Act has impacted on sexual orientation, trans issues and religion or belief was studied by Prof Mark Bell of Leicester University. By analysing figures for employment tribunals, Mark highlighted how although the Act has extended the public sector duty to sexual orientation and religion/ belief, a complex set of exceptions would mean that individual litigation would not be sufficient to challenge injustice.
Providing international comparative information from New Zealand, Ben Patrick of Unison commented on the inherent ageism of the National Minimum Wage and the possibility of a fairer NMW as implemented in New Zealand.
Sally Brett of the TUC rounded up the day’s contributions speaking on multiple discrimination: positive action
Prof Aileen McColgan will be editing an IER publication on the Equality Act in 2011. If you wish to order a copy contact us