Legal Specialist Says Sex Discrimination Claims In Hospitality Sector Also Likely To Increase
The government's proposed amendments to the Equality Act 2010, set to come into effect from 1 January 2024, have raised concerns within the hospitality sector of increased equal pay claims and sex discrimination cases.
The government has recently published draft legislation that will bring about amendments to the Equality Act 2010. These amendments aim to consolidate specific discrimination protections derived from EU caselaw, which would have otherwise ceased to exist due to Brexit.
After the UK's exit from the EU, the government took steps to preserve EU-derived laws in the UK's legal framework. The Retained EU Law (Revocation and Reform) Act 2023 facilitated this process. However, from the end of 2023, courts will no longer be bound to interpret EU retained law in line with the underlying Directives, and the principle of supremacy of EU law will no longer apply.
To address potential legal uncertainty in employment, the government plans to amend the Equality Act. These amendments include greater protection for breastfeeding mothers and broadening the scope for equal pay claims.
Expert Opinion“The proposed removal of the exclusion that currently prevents breastfeeding mothers from being protected against discrimination in the workplace is a game-changer because it brings clarity to the law. It will empower women to bring direct sex discrimination claims if they are treated unfairly due to breastfeeding.
“In terms of equal pay, the amendments will broaden the scope for claims by removing the requirement for workers to identify a comparator employed by the same or associated employer. Instead, workers need to demonstrate that their terms and conditions are attributable to a single source. This change has the potential to significantly impact businesses in the hospitality sector and may result in an increase in claims.
“These proposed amendments to the Equality Act 2010 demand immediate attention from businesses in the hospitality sector. It is imperative for employers to understand these changes and proactively address any potential legal issues to avoid costly litigation and reputational damage.”
Charlotte Rees-John, employment partner at Irwin Mitchell and head of its consumer sector