The new head of the Commission for Racial Equality (CRE) has warned private sector firms delivering public services that they must comply with race legislation.
Trevor Phillips told Personnel Today that the CRE will pursue private companies working in the public sector if they do not comply with the Race Relations Amendment Act (RRAA), which forces public bodies to actively promote racial equality. Employers must also publish annual reports charting progress and action plans in the area.
Phillips said the Government's policy of encouraging private organisations to fund the modernisation of the public sector had led to an ever increasing number of private firms delivering public services, creating a grey area in the law.
"Even if the law [the RRAA] does not specifically cover private sector companies, we think that it essentially captures private sector companies that work for the public sector. I am going to operate as if it does," he said.
"Why should public money be spent in a way that is racially biased? I cannot accept that.
"Everyone involved in a public-private partnership and a contract that provides services to the public sector - I think both morally and legally - will have to observe the public duty."