Equality Bill debated in parliament as it reaches committee stage

Amendments to the Equality Bill will be debated in parliament today as it reaches the committee stage.

The Bill, expected to come into force by autumn 2010, is set to replace nine laws with one single Act in a bid to make it easier for employers and staff to promote diversity in the workplace and eradicate the gender pay gap.

However, it has reached committee stage just days after plans to increase equality and give fathers six months paternity leave were shelved by the government due to the recession.

Among the amendments tabled for discussion today are the proposal to ban names from CVs and written job applications, to attempt to remove any discrimination that may occur during the selection stage of the recruitment process.

The idea, suggested by Liberal Democrat equality spokeswoman and MP Lynne Featherstone, was quickly criticised by HR chiefs as being too bureaucratic and unlikely to prevent discrimination, but it will be considered by all parties today.

Also up for debate is the clause that will force employers with more than 250 employees to report their gender pay gap from 2013, if sufficient progress on reporting has not already been made voluntarily.

Last month, women’s minister Harriet Harman said: “When times are hard, it is even more important that everyone feels that they have an equal chance and that we all pull together, because we are in the same boat.”

Many of the Bill’s proposals, including the ban on secrecy clauses to prevent staff from talking about pay, and using public procurement to promote equality, will come into force in March 2010 if the Bill succeeds in its current form.

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