Universal equality body put on hold until after election

Plans for a single equality commission will not be pushed through parliament until “well after” the general election, Personnel Today has learned.

The Commission for Equality and Human Rights (CEHR) will combine the existing equality bodies – the Commission for Racial Equality (CRE), the Equal Opportunities Commission and the Disability Rights Commission – as well as taking responsibility for religious, sexual orientation and age discrimination.

The new-look commission was due to be launched in 2005 or 2006, but is likely to be pushed back due to the backlog created by the upcoming general election, senior government sources said.

The CEHR, announced in 2003, has provoked a mixed reaction from the business world.

The CBI said employers would strongly oppose the creation of a single Act, claiming it would be a rushed one-size-fits-all approach. But the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development said the body should crystallise the business case for diversity to reduce confusion among employers.

Equality bodies themselves have raised concerns about the CEHR. The Employers Forum on Age attacked the Government for failing to take into account the needs of employers in its rush to create the body, while the CRE raised concerns that the effectiveness of each body could be diluted by the launch of a ‘super commission’.

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