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5 May, 2020 Open access

Equality and Human Rights Commission warns employers of their continuing obligations to comply with equalities legislation during COVID-19 crisis

New guidance acknowledges that employers may need to make difficult decisions on ways of working during crisis, but this must not result in ‘rowing back’ on people’s rights

The Equalities and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) has issued a warning to employers about their continuing legal obligations to comply with equalities legislation during the COVID-19 crisis.

Aiming to prevent a raft of discrimination claims as a result of unfair treatment of disabled or pregnant members of staff during, or as a result of, the coronavirus crisis, the EHRC has issued new guidance for employers, that sets out essential knowledge including in relation to protected characteristics, direct and indirect discrimination and obligations to make reasonable adjustments.

In addition, the guidance highlights key actions that employers can take to reduce the equality impacts of their decision making when responding to the crisis, including by -

Commenting on the guidance, Chief Executive of the Equality and Human Rights Commission Rebecca Hilsenrath said -

‘We know that these are exceptional times but this must not result in rowing back on people’s rights, nor forgetting those who may be facing more disadvantage than others. Disabled people, pregnant women and new mothers are already facing considerable challenges throughout this crisis and need to be able to feel confident in the security of their livelihoods. This guidance will give employees invaluable advice when it comes to making the right decisions in this incredibly confusing time and avoid a raft of unnecessary discrimination claims once life has returned to normal.’

For more details see Employers face raft of disability discrimination claims amid Covid-19 crisis from the EHRC website.