The trade union representing staff at the new Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC), which comes into being today (1 October), has warned the body could be undermined by a lack of cash.
The Public and Commercial Services Union (PCS) has expressed fears that the commission could be a ‘toothless tiger’ unless legislation is strengthened and extra funding made available.
The union fears that the EHRC, like its predecessor equality bodies, will be the victim of yearly budget cuts, hampering its ability to fight discrimination.
Mark Serwotka, PCS general secretary, said: “If the body is to avoid being a toothless tiger then the government needs to put its money where its mouth is and back its stated commitment to equality with the resources to root out and challenge discrimination.”
Meanwhile, the new EHRC could lead to more legal cases being brought against employers, according to employment information provider Consult GEE.
Gabriel Barton, employment law expert at the firm, said: “Until now, there has not been a domestic body set up that is designed specifically to assist in human rights cases and promote the issue. Once this body is in place, the impetus is there for more cases being brought.”
The CBI welcomed the launch of the commission and called on the new body to make high quality information, advice and guidance on promoting diversity in the workplace its first priority.
“We need more women and ethnic minorities in the boardrooms of Britain, more high quality part-time jobs and more disabled people in work,” said Susan Anderson, CBI director of HR policy.
“But, if we want to close the equality gap, the EHRC must be a partner for employers, not just a police force.”