Equality Bill passes House of Lords third reading

The Equality Bill has completed a third reading in the House of Lords and will now be passed back to the House of Commons for MPs to consider amendments.

Among the proposed amendments to the Bill – which sets out new regulations that could force employers to conduct equal pay audits – is a ban on pre-employment health checks.

The inclusion of this ban within the Bill will stop employers from screening job applications to avoid interviewing applicants with disabilities, according to the House of Lords.

Where pay is concerned, it has also been recommended after the third reading of the Equality Bill that a claimant can compare their pay with a predecessor in the job as well as with colleagues at work.

Last week, Personnel Today revealed that HR professionals are confused about what does and does not count as a ‘protected belief’ under the Equality Bill, and the reputation of the Bill has been questioned.

But Harriet Harman, minister for women and equality, welcomed the passing of the Bill. “This is a historic piece of legislation that contains a range of new rights, powers and obligations to help the drive towards equality, including tackling the over-arching inequality caused by where you are born and what your parents do for a living,” she said.

Last year when the Equality Bill was published, business groups expressed concern that the introduction of equal pay audits would hit businesses trying to emerge from the recession.

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