New equality code 'an unworkable morass'

May 07 2004 by Brian Amble Print This Article

Already reeling under the deluge of new employment legislation, employers in the UK are being are being asked to comment on an extended “Statutory Code of Practice on Racial Equality in Employment” from the Commission for Racial Equality (CRE).

The code is intended to give employers practical advice and can be cited in employment tribunals if the employer has not followed it. It takes into account amendments to the Race Relations Act 1976 and the impact of EU legislation.

Launching a consultancy period on the document lasting until August 6, the CRE claims that the revised code is more accessible, giving more detailed guidance and real-life employment tribunal case study examples.

The current code is 14 pages long. The revised draft revised code runs to 99 pages.

Including proposals such as one that employers should have to provide prayer rooms and give time off for non-Christians to celebrate their own religious holidays, the code is bound to attract controversy.

The CRE's Sheila Rogers said that the CRE was "not in the business of placing extra burdens on organisations."

But Angela Gill of City law firm Morrison & Foerster said the revised code "stepped over the boundary from being a useful tool to get race relations working effectively to becoming a virtually unworkable morass".

Digby Jones, CBI director-general and a CRE commissioner, said the code was "a very useful guide" but admitted that a more easily-understood version was needed for "pressed and distracted" smaller businesses.

A 900K download of the draft code and a feedback questionnaire is available on the CRE's website. Just make sure you have a fast Internet connection before trying to get it.