The Women and Equalities Committee has launched a report, entitled Enforcing the Equality Act: the law and the role of the EHRC, which follows its vital inquiry into how the Equality Act is enforced across Britain and lists its recommendations for much needed improvement.
We are pleased to see that the Committee has acknowledged that the enforcement of the Equality Act has largely failed, meaning that many employers and service providers are not afraid to discriminate against deaf and disabled people.
It’s refreshing to see the Committee’s acknowledgment that the Equality Act is rarely enforced, meaning that employers and service providers have been free to continue discriminating against deaf and disabled people.
The Act has a huge role to play in breaking down the barriers faced by deaf and disabled people, as well as creating a fundamental shift in public attitudes. In light of this, we welcome the Committee’s recommendations calling for a change in approach to enforcement, including the development of a ‘critical mass’ of cases to inform employers and organisations about their legal duties.
We urge the Government to act on these recommendations as soon as possible, particularly given that similar recommendations were made by the House of Lords Select Committee in 2016 which weren’t addressed.
With the new Prime Minister beginning his premiership with a promise to build a great society based on fairness and opportunity, it’s time for Government to take decisive action and not repeat the inertia we saw three years ago. Our society cannot claim to be one grounded on the principles of fairness and equality while deaf and disabled people continue to face discrimination and unnecessary barriers every day.