Work & Pensions Committee
The Equality Bill: How Disability Equality Fits Within a Single Equality Act
HC 158-I, Third Report of Session 2008-09 - Volume I: Report, Together with Formal Minutes
- House of Commons - Work and Pensions Committee
- TSO (The Stationery Office)
In this report, 'The Equality Bill: How Disability Equality Fits Within a Single Equality Act (HC 158-I)', the Work and Pensions Committee welcomes the Government's intentions to simplify and streamline legislation on discrimination into one single Equality Bill. It believes, however, that disability discrimination requires a difference in approach and should be predicated on the idea that we need to treat people differently to accord disabled people equal opportunities.
The challenge is to bring disability discrimination law within that broad family of equality law whilst recognising those key differences. To meet this objective, the Government should re-establish the version of disability-related discrimination that existed before the recent Lewisham v Malcolm judgment and which was well understood by employers and employees alike.
Preserving strong disability rights needs to go hand-in-hand with an adequate defence for those with duties under the legislation. Harmonising the different provisions that currently permit employers, service providers, landlords and others to justify disability discrimination in certain circumstances will ensure a balance between their responsibilities and the rights of the disabled person.
The Committee also calls for the removal of one of the greatest obstacles to improving employment opportunities for older people: the continued existence of the statutory default retirement age in the Employment Equality (Age) Regulations 2006.
Other conclusions and recommendations set out by the Committee include:
The overall employment rate of disabled people has increased since 1995 but the rate for people with mental illness, phobias or panic has remained substantially lower (at just over 10%) than that for those with most other types of impairment.
Too many employers and disabled people are unaware of what support is available for them through the Access to Work scheme.
Research by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) identified recruitment as the most common source of discrimination against disabled people but few cases reach court.
The public sector has an important role to play in promoting equality but needs to focus on outcomes not process.
The accompanying 'The Equality Bill: How Disability Equality Fits Within a Single Equality Act - Volume II: Oral and Written Evidence (HC 158-II)' (ISBN 9780215529817) is available to buy separately, please see below.
|Format||Paperback||Published||29 Apr 2009|
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