Experts close to the Equality Bill believe it will become law in autumn next year, giving employers an extra six months' breathing spaceto prepare for changes.
Businesses have been under the impression that elements of the Bill could be implemented as early as March 2010, as that was the date originally stipulated when women's minister Harriet Harman introduced the Bill.
At an event held by equality organisation Employers for Carers in London last night, Janice Shersby, director of policy for the Government Equalities Office, said: "We expect most of the Bill to get royal assent early next year, and we expect most of the Bill to come into force in autumn 2010," she said. "Some of the provisions will come into force later, to give employers time to adjust, but we anticipate the Bill to get through largely unchanged."
Trevor Phillips, chairman of the Equality and Human Rights Commission,also speaking at the event, addedhe was confident the Bill would get through in a similar form to its current state.
"If I were forced at gunpoint, I would say there will be an election next year, and there will be time to get this Bill through [parliament], provided we are not stupid about it and provided our friends in the House of Lords get on with it and don't muck it about," he said.
"We think it's a good Bill, and we'll do what we can to marshal the lobbying around the Bill so we don't get to a situation where the Bill gets talked out because there are too many amendments."
The Bill reached committee stage last week, with amendments up for debate that included Lynne Featherstone's proposal to ban names from CVs, and a clause to force employers to report their gender pay gap from 2013.
Other provisions in the Bill include the ban on secrecy clauses to prevent staff from talking about pay, and using public procurement to promote equality.