Opinion

Government doesn't know best

Sections of the Equality Act, as passed by the previous Labour Government, were brought into effect this last October. However, other elements are due to be phased in over the next few years.

But one strand of the law - the compulsion of businesses to audit what they pay male and female staff - is to be abandoned; it's to be made a voluntary option. The announcement was made by the Equalities Minister, Lynne Featherstone, at an event that launched research into the progress of women in the boardroom, held at Cranfield University's School of Management. An odd event to make such an announcement.

So whilst killing an attempt to equalise pay, the Government is still planning to give businesses to power to positively discriminate in favour of women in terms of recruitment and promotion. But this could itself open employers up to discrimination claims unless they follow the rules (which still have to be formulated). Some have advised taking extreme caution with positive discrimination.

Ms Featherstone said that the Government wants to ''...move away from the arrogant notion that Government knows best..."

This was first published in December 2010

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