Clause 52

Equality Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 10:30 am on 23rd June 2009.

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Employment service-providers

Photo of Vera Baird Vera Baird Solicitor General, Attorney General's Office

I beg to move amendment 226, in clause 52, page 41, line 12, leave out from ‘service-provider’ to end of line 14 and insert

‘, except in relation to the provision of a vocational service.’.

This amendment and amendments 227 to 229 would maintain the effect of the existing law by providing for persons who provide certain employment services to be subject to the anticipatory duty to make reasonable adjustments that is imposed by Part 3 in relation to services generally.

Photo of Joe Benton Joe Benton Labour, Bootle

With this it will be convenient to discuss Government amendments 227, 64, 228 and 229.

Photo of Vera Baird Vera Baird Solicitor General, Attorney General's Office

I call this the “back to the future” provision, which will restore the position as it was. Amendments 226, 227, 228 and 229 restore the position under the Disability Discrimination Act 1995  when it comes to reasonable adjustment placed on those providing employment services and vocational services. The amendment maintains the existing protection by obliging an anticipatory duty. Disabled people wanting to avail themselves of high street employment agencies or Jobcentre Plus need to be able to access the services on offer and receive information and advice in ways that are accessible to them.

Members who in an earlier debate were keen to test the effectiveness of the reasonable adjustment provisions will be reassured that there is no erosion of existing levels in that connection. The amendment also restates the position for enforcement of the duty to make reasonable adjustments in respect of vocational services as being via the employment tribunal. I suspect that that will also meet with people’s approval because it is usually thought of as being easier than the county court.

Amendment 64 concerns clause 53, which defines what the provision of an employment service does and does not include for the purposes of clause 52, which makes it unlawful to discriminate, harass or victimise someone when using such a service. We want to omit clause 52(3), which excludes from that clause employment services provided other than by way of a trade or profession. We want to do that because it is necessary to ensure that employment services provided by volunteers are also captured by the discrimination provisions.

All together, the exceptions ensure that the Bill is consistent with the position under current law, whereby in what capacity an employment service is provided is irrelevant—the appropriate duties are still on the provider.

Amendment agreed to.

Amendment made: 227, in clause 52, page 41, line 14, at end insert—

‘( ) The duty imposed by section 27(7)(a) applies to a person concerned with the provision of a vocational service; but a failure to comply with that duty in relation to the provision of a vocational service is a contravention of this Part for the purposes of Part 9 (enforcement).’. —(The Solicitor-General.)

See explanatory statement for amendment 226.

Clause 52, as amended, ordered to stand part of the Bill.