Minister plans to update Sex Discrimination Act

New proposals to crack down on discrimination in the workplace have been set out in a consultation document by deputy women and equality minister Jacqui Smith.

The consultation, Equality and Diversity: Updating the Sex Discrimination Act, includes proposals to:

  • Update the Sex Discrimination Act 1975 (SDA) to include discrimination against pregnancy and maternity leave

  • Outlaw sexual harassment in employment and vocational training

  • Update the definition of indirect discrimination in the SDA in employment and vocational training; and

  • Extend the SDA to office holders as well as employees.

Smith said: “No one should be discriminated against because of their sex. It is unacceptable in modern Britain. I want to see fair and equal treatment for everyone and this consultation is an important step in helping us reach that goal.

“Our aim is to make it easier for both employers and individuals to understand what the law requires, helping to contribute to a fairer workplace where everyone receives fair and equal treatment.”

The proposals put forward in the consultation document would implement the EC amended Equal Treatment Directive which promotes the equal treatment of men and women in employment and vocational training. The directive is due to be implemented by October 2005.

The consultation runs for 12 weeks and can be found at Closing date for responses is 31 May.

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