Third-party harassment law set to be abolished

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The Government will repeal provisions in the Equality Act 2010 that make employers liable for the harassment of their staff by third parties, it has confirmed.

Currently, employers are required to take reasonable steps to prevent harassment of their employees by third parties, such as customers or suppliers.

However, in May, the Government launched a consultation on removing the provision, which it called “unworkable” as employers have no direct control over how third parties act towards their staff.

While the Government has not yet responded to the consultation, it has now confirmed that it will amend the Equality Act to remove the provisions. A date has not been announced for the repeal.

The move is one of a number of measures that will be made through the Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Bill, in a bid to cut red tape for employers.

The Bill will also introduce a requirement for employment tribunals to order employers that breach equal pay provisions to conduct an equal pay audit and will repeal provisions in the Equality Act that prescribe questionnaires for individuals who believe that they have been discriminated against.

Business minister Jo Swinson said the bill would help strengthen the business environment and boost confidence by getting rid of “needless bureaucracy”.

She added: “Clearing away barriers to help business grow and invest is an essential part of the Government’s plan for growth”.

However, Brendan Barber, general secretary of the TUC, said that the move would weaken employment rights.

“Getting rid of third-party harassment will make working life even harder for the thousands of care home staff, teachers and health workers who suffer prejudice and abuse from those they are trying to help.” he said.

View full details of the Government’s announcement on the repeal of the third party harassment provisions.

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