Employer links will be key to success of Commission for Equality and Human Rights

Building relationships with employers will be crucial to the success of the new equalities body, according to the outgoing chair of the Equal Opportunities Commission (EOC).

Jenny Watson told Personnel Today that the Commission for Equality and Human Rights (CEHR) would rely on the strength of its business contacts.

The CEHR replaces the EOC, the Commission for Racial Equality and the Disability Rights Commission – as well as taking on a host of other responsibilities – from 1 October.

Watson backed the formation of the overarching equalities body, saying she was convinced it would build on the EOC’s legacy in fighting for women’s rights. But she added: “The CEHR needs to be clear on how people can engage with it. Employers will have close relationships with existing bodies, and the CEHR will need to fill that gap. Building relationships will be critical.”

Watson backed the appointment of Trevor Phillips to chair the CEHR. She was not interested in the job, she said, and was setting off for an extended camper van trip around Australia before considering her options in the New Year.

In a parting shot, Watson called for workers to be legally protected from being disciplined for discussing their pay with colleagues.

“It is still a disciplinary offence in many companies to talk about your pay with colleagues. There should be legislation against that – if employers have a fair and transparent system then they have nothing to hide,” she said.

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