Conciliation service Acas has published new guidance to help HR staff prepare for the Equality Act, which is due to come into force in October.
The Acas guide – The Equality Act: What’s New for Employers? – explains how the new law will affect employers in areas including third-party harassment, pre-employment health checks, employment tribunals, and pay secrecy.
Under the Equality Act, employers are potentially liable if their staff are harassed by people they don’t employ, such as external suppliers or customers, Acas said.
From October, employers should no longer send out pre-health questionnaires with employment application packs, Acas said, although it added there are some exemptions – for example, around questions related to making reasonable adjustments for the person in the selection process if they are disabled.
There will also be changes to employment tribunals. Tribunals will be able to require employers found guilty of discrimination to take steps to change their policies and practices to prevent further discrimination.
Perhaps most controversially, employers will not be able to require their employees to keep their pay secret. However, an employer can still require employees to keep pay rates confidential from others outside the workplace, such as competitors, Acas said.
John Taylor, Acas chief executive, said: “Fairness in the workplace is good business and motivates staff as well as improving effectiveness and productivity. Last year, Acas received about 32,000 calls on diversity and discrimination-related issues.”