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UK — Public contracts to be awarded on the basis of equality

19 November 2009

An equality law included in the Queen's Speech (which is written by the Government) yesterday could mean that when two companies make similar bids for a state contract, the final decision would rest on which of them employs the most women or members of minority groups, the Daily Telegraph reports.

The so-called Equality Bill contains a wide range of measures meant to deliver greater equality between people of different gender, race, religion and social class.

A government briefing note on the bill said that "one of its central elements is using 200 billion Pounds worth of public procurement to drive equality in the private sector."

Private sector employers with more than 250 workers will also have to carry out 'gender pay audits' by the year 2013, which is regarded by several business lobby groups as an unnecessary extra administrative burden on companies.

Kevin Green, Chief Executive of the Recruitment and Employment Confederation (REC) said, "the Equality Bill proposals on reporting gender pay differences should not clog up companies with added bureaucracy when they are trying to re-staff as we pull out of the recession."

The Queen's Speech also confirmed plans to give temporary agency workers the same rights to pay and holidays as permanent staff but the regulation will be delayed until 2011 in order to enable employers to prepare for the changes.



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