The Government has announced that it will remove the third-party harassment provisions from the Equality Act 2010.
Section 40 of the Equality Act 2010 introduced the concept of third-party harassment, whereby an employer will, in certain circumstances, be liable for the harassment of an employee where it is carried out by a third party, for example a customer or supplier. Earlier this year, the Government launched a consultation on proposals to repeal these provisions on the basis that there is "no evidence to suggest that the third-party harassment provisions are serving a practical purpose or are an appropriate or proportionate manner of dealing with the type of conduct that they are intended to cover". The consultation closed on 7 August 2012 and the Government has confirmed that it will proceed with its proposals.
The Equality Act 2010 will also be amended to:
- remove the questionnaire procedure that enables an individual who thinks that he or she has been discriminated against to gather information from the employer and enables the parties to use the individual's questions and the employer's response as evidence in the proceedings; and
- require employment tribunals to order an employer to conduct an equal pay audit where it has breached the equal pay provisions under the Act, except in limited circumstances.
The amendments to the Equality Act 2010 will be made by the Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Bill.
- Paving the way to business freedom The announcement of the repeal of the third-party harassment provisions in the Equality Act 2010 was made by the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills (on the BIS website).
- Government response to consultation on employer liability for harassment of employees by third parties The Government response to the consultation on third-party harassment is available on the Home Office website.
- Government response to consultation on obtaining information procedure The Government response to the consultation on the procedure enabling individuals to obtain information on discrimination from their employer is available on the Home Office website.
- Proposed amendments to the Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Bill (PDF format, 301.2K) Read the text of the latest proposed amendments to the Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Bill on the BIS website.
Government consults on repeal of Equality Act third-party harassment provisions The Government launched the consultation on the repeal of the third-party harassment provisions in the Equality Act 2010 on 15 May 2012.
Policy on dealing with harassment complaints Use this model policy to give employees who believe that they have been harassed or bullied at work a route to raise a complaint either informally or formally.
Line manager briefing on bullying and harassment This line manager briefing covers the topic of bullying and harassment and aims to provide guidance on what managers should do to reduce the likelihood of incidents of bullying and harassment at work and deal effectively with any complaints of bullying or harassment that may arise.