Civil partnerships (religious premises): consultation, responses and ministerial statement

The Government Equalities Office (GEO) logo.

On 2 November 2011, the Government published its response to the consultation on ‘Civil Partnerships on religious premises’.

A written ministerial statement by Equalities Minister Lynne Featherstone was laid in the House of Commons on 2 November 2011. It says the Government is committed to removing the legal barrier to civil partnerships being registered on the religious premises of those faith groups who choose to allow this to happen. This will be done by implementing section 202 of the Equality Act 2010.

The Government Equalities Office consultation on ‘Civil partnerships on religious premises’ ran from 31 March 2011-23 June 2011.

Click here for Government response to consultation

Click here for ministerial statement

Click here for Equality and Human Rights Commission response to the consultation (June 2011)

Government support for women in business

Home Office

On 4 November 2011, the Minister for Women announced that the Government will be looking at what more can be done to ensure that women are fully able to use their talents to support both themselves and economic growth.

To ensure Government get the best advice, it will be setting up a Women’s Business Council to look at a range of issues including:

  • Supporting more women to become entrepreneurs
  • Tackling obstacles to making best use of women’s skills (which could include childcare, careers advice, skills, rolling out Voluntary Gender Equality Reporting)
  • Road testing existing policies and programmes to ensure relevance for women in business.

As more immediate support for women in business, the Government will be funding the recruitment and training of 5,000 new mentors to support women set up and grow their businesses.

Click here for announcement

Government Employment Law Review consultation and TUC response


on 3 October 2011, the Government published ‘Flexible, Effective, Fair: Promoting economic growth through a strong and efficient labour market – A consultation’.

The paper was published at the launch of the Red Tape Challenge spotlight on employment related regulations. It sets out the principles that are guiding the Government’s approach to the labour market framework and a number of thematic questions.

The paper also sets out what the Government is already doing in the on-going Employment Law Review to improve the labour market framework – and areas where it believes there is more to be done.

In October 2011, the TUC published a response to the Government’s Red Tape Challenge paper on employment related regulations, ‘Flexible, Effective, Fair: Promoting economic growth through a strong and efficient labour market – A consultation’.

In its response, the TUC says that it ‘does not recognise the claims made by some elements of the business community (which appear to be endorsed by the government) about the “burden” of existing labour market regulations. The fundamental question to ask is why regulation was necessary. If that need still exists, so does the need for protection’.

Click here for publication (pdf)

Click here for details of the Red Tape Challenge

Click here for TUC response

EHRC legal intervention on religious discrimination cases

The EHRC logo.

On 27 September 2011, the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) announced that it had submitted its intervention to the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) on four cases relating to alleged religious discrimination in the workplace.

The Commission’s submission has been informed by a public consultation in which it asked for views on its proposed submission on the human rights elements of the four cases claiming religious discrimination, and separately, whether the concept of reasonable accommodation has any useful practical application in cases concerning the manifestation of religion or belief. The consultation closed on 5 September.

Click here for further details including link to consultation response summary and to submission to ECtHR

Scottish Government Equality Statement

The Scottish Government logo

In September 2011, the Scottish Government published the ‘Equality Statement: Scottish Spending Review 2011 and Draft Budget 2012-13’.

The document provides information on how spending contributes to improving equality outcomes and how the Scottish Government has considered the potential impacts of its spending plans on those groups of people whose lives are affected by discrimination and inequality.

Click here for Equality Statement (pdf)

Click here for Scottish Government website

The Equality Act 2010 (Specific Duties) Regulations 2011

The Government Equalities Office (GEO) logo.

The Equality Act 2010 (Specific Duties) Regulations 2011 came into force on 10 September 2011, following debates in the House of Commons on 11 July and the House of Lords on 6 September.

The Explanatory Memorandum that accompanies the regulations includes a summary of responses to both the consultation and the policy review, and sets out the decisions taken and the rationale for them.

The regulations set out specific duties imposed on listed public bodies to enable those public bodies to carry out the public sector Equality Duty more effectively. They are designed to ensure that public bodies are transparent about their compliance with the Equality Duty. By publishing information about their equality performance and objectives, public bodies will be accountable to the people and communities they serve.

The specific duties require public bodies to publish:

  • information to demonstrate their compliance with the Equality Duty, by 31 January 2012 ( 6 April 2012 for schools) and then at least annually, and
  • equality objectives, by 6 April 2012 and then at least every four years.

The Government Equalities Office will be publishing on its website a quick start guide to the specific duties for public bodies.

Voluntary and community sector organisations (VCSOs) will have a significant role to play in helping public bodies achieve transparency and accountability for their performance on equality. The Government Equalities Office is developing a toolkit to help VCSOs use the public sector Equality Duty more effectively to engage with public bodies on equality issues and hold them to account for their equality performance.

Click here for link to Regulations

Click here for Explanatory Memorandum

Click here for further information on the public sector Equality Duty and the specific duties

Government initiative for transparency on gender equality

Home Office

In September 2011, the Government launched the ‘Think, Act, Report’ initiative, aimed at improving transparency on gender equality issues in the private and voluntary sector.

Launching the initiative on 14 September, the Home Secretary and Minister for Women and Equalities, Theresa May announced that leading UK companies Tesco, BT and law firm Eversheds had signed-up to the government’s new framework for voluntary equality reporting, ‘Think, Act, Report’.

Click here for announcement

Click here for ‘Think, Act, Report’ framework

Click here for transcript of speech given at the launch by Theresa May

Click here for details of Acas guidance on ‘Voluntary Gender Equality Analysis and Reporting’ published in September 2011

European Commission anti-discrimination activities

The European Commission emblem.

European Commission antidiscrimination activities moved from DG Employment to DG Justice in January 2011.

Consequently, the antidiscrimination web pages and the ‘For Diversity. Against Discrimination’ campaign website have been integrated into the new DG Justice portal.

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Click here for information on tackling discrimination

Click here for the For Diversity. Against Discrimination campaign