[Continued from Single Equality Act: The Socio-Economic Duty – Part 1.]
Research proves socio-economic factors affect how well people do throughout their lives. The Government argues the socio-economic duty is needed because:
- Poorer children (who get free school meals between the ages of seven and 14) are less likely to go onto higher education;
- Less academically able but better off children overtake more able, but poorer children by the age of six;
- The income gap between those in work continues into retirement as those in higher paid jobs are more likely to have company pension schemes, giving them financial security in retirement; &
- Women generally live longer than men, but since the early 1980s poorer women have been living less long than rich men.
Socio-economic disadvantages can also reinforce and increase the inequalities associated with disability, gender and race:
- Disabled adults are twice as likely to live in low-income households as non-disabled adults;
- Half of all lone parents are in low income households, the overwhelming majority of them being women;
- Only 61% of Muslim men have jobs, compared to 80% of Christian men, and 82% of Hindu men; &
- Around 70% of people from black and minority ethnic backgrounds live in the most deprived wards in the country.
The Government expects the socio-economic duty to become law in April 2011.
Other provisions in the Single Equality Act
The Single Equality Act includes a number of other measures, including:
- Giving power to public bodies to use procurement to drive equality;
- Banning age discrimination outside the workplace, for example in financial services (insurance, credit) and in health services;
- A power requiring employers with over 250 employees to publish their gender pay gap to assist transparency;
- Extending the scope for employers to use positive action to recruit someone from an under-represented group when choosing between otherwise equal candidates;
- Enabling employment tribunals to make recommendations that affect the wider workforce and not just the victim of discrimination;
- Protecting carers from discrimination;
- Protecting breastfeeding mothers;
- Strengthening protection against discrimination for disabled people;
- New protection against discrimination because of a combination of two characteristics (known as ‘dual discrimination’); &
- Tackling the misuse of pre-employment questionnaires about health or disability.
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