LRD Booklets October 2018

Equality Law at Work 2018 - a guide for trade unions and working people

Introduction

Introduction


[page 6]

Achieving equality at work and across society is a core value shared across the union movement. Everyone has the right to be treated with dignity and respect at work and to do their job to the best of their ability, free from discrimination, harassment and victimisation. 


Unions have led the way with campaigns to close the motherhood pay gap, and in tackling racism, improving access to work for disabled people, countering homophobic and transphobic bullying, and supporting workers of all ages as they pass through the different stages of working life. Embedding equality in the collective bargaining agenda helps to build a workplace that is fairer for all. 


Hard-fought, strategic litigation by public services union UNISON has ensured that equality rights at work are real and not a sham, by securing the abolition of tribunal fees in the union’s Supreme Court victory of July 2017. The Supreme Court confirmed that the fees were unlawful as they denied individuals access to justice, and they were abolished with immediate effect. 


As membership organisations, employers and service providers in their own right, unions must also comply with equality laws and will need to be doing their best to model best practice at every level. 


This new booklet is designed as a practical tool for union negotiators, reps and members who need to understand how equality law works and how to apply it to everyday work situations. The booklet is supported by an advice line available to LRD-affiliated organisations. 


Most trade unions offer their members a legal advice service and any member or rep contemplating taking a legal case should contact their union first. This booklet does not contain individual legal advice and must not be relied on as such. 


This booklet refers to the legislation as it applies to England, Wales and Scotland (although there are some variations in Scotland). The legal position in Northern Ireland is broadly similar to that which existed in the rest of the UK before the Equality Act 2010, with separate sets of regulations for different types of discrimination. The most significant difference is the addition in Northern Ireland of specific laws preventing discrimination on grounds of political opinion, enforced by a separate body, the Fair Employment Tribunal.