WATCH: Equality at Work Update 2020 (Part 1)

Top lawyers and campaigners discuss racial inequality in the workplace and how the law can be strengthened to protect all workers.

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About this event

In the first of our new 2020 Employment Law Webinar Series, we brought together lawyers and campaigners to discuss equality at work during the Coronavirus crisis.

The pandemic has brought inequalities in the workforce to the forefront, especially in terms of the virus’ disproportionate harm to the health and livelihoods of BAME groups.

Signs of the devastating impact of the Coronavirus on BAME communities arose early in the crisis and led the Equality and Human Rights Commission to launch an inquiry into the entrenched societal inequalities that are thought to have contributed to this effect. The body cited a trend of poorer working and housing conditions among the factors it would be investigating.

Meanwhile, the Black Lives Matter Protests were sparked by the murder of George Floyd in the US. The demonstrations were largely supported by the public but triggered a much-criticised response from the government. Boris Johnson announced an inquiry into racial inequalities but appointed two well-known sceptics of institutional racism at its helm.

At this conference, leading lawyer Aileen McColgan QC discussed the disparate racial impact of Covid.

But these inequalities were not created by the virus, they are embedded in the UK’s labour law framework. Sue Coe, Senior Policy Officer at the TUC, and Ijeoma Omambala, a barrister at Old Square Chambers, led delegates through the inadequacies of current equality legislation and its enforcement, before considering progressive reforms for the future.

This conference, chaired by the IER’s Director, Carolyn Jones, was the first of two equality events in our new series. The next event, held two days later on Thursday 15 October, took a deep dive into the inequalities faced by women in the workforce.

Speakers

– Aileen McColgan QC, 11KBW Chambers – ‘The disparate racial impact of Covid’

– Sue Coe, TUC – ‘The chasm between equality law and reality’

– Ijeoma Omambala QC, Old Square Chambers – ‘Equality and the law during and after Covid’

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