Enforcement of the Equality Act: the law and the role of the EHRC

Scope of the inquiry

The Committee has already made recommendations to improve the enforcement of the Equality Act in specific areas. It now wants to know what more needs to be done to achieve widespread compliance with the Equality Act 2010 for all those with rights under it, including:

  • the processes by which individual cases can be brought under the Equality Act, including the barriers that may prevent claimants from enforcing their rights
  • the role of the EHRC as the enforcement body, including the effectiveness of its duties, powers and policies
  • whether there are other models of enforcement that could achieve more widespread compliance with the rights set out in the Equality Act 2010.

The Women and Equalities Committee launches an inquiry into the enforcement of the Equality Act 2010 – legislation which is designed to “provide a legal framework to protect the rights of individuals and advance equality of opportunity for all”.

 

Issues with enforcement

Individuals can take legal action to enforce their right not to be discriminated against, mostly through employment tribunals and county courts.

The Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) also has duties and powers to enforce the Act and it has stated that it wishes to become a more ‘muscular’ regulator.

However, the Committee’s work in a range of areas has shown that individuals have difficulties enforcing their rights under the Act and has questioned the effectiveness of the EHRC: inquiries on pregnancy and maternity discriminationtransgender equalitydisability and the built environmentworkplace dress codesolder people and employment and sexual harassment in the workplace all identified issues with enforcement.

The Committee now wants to know what more needs to be done to achieve widespread compliance with the Equality Act 2010 for all those with rights under it.