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6 August, 2020 Open access

Without urgent action, the current wave of redundancies is likely to increase the inequality faced by parents, carers and disabled people, Citizens Advice warns

New report on employment rights during the coronavirus outbreak finds that people with a disability, and carers of children, are at least twice as likely to face redundancy compared to other workers

Citizens Advice has warned that without urgent action, the current wave of redundancies is likely to increase the inequality faced by parents, carers and disabled people.

In An unequal crisis: Why workers need better enforcement of their rights, Citizens Advice analyses the results of a survey of more than 6,000 people about risks of redundancy, while also reporting on the advice it is providing on redundancy problems during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

Key findings include that -

Given these findings, Citizens Advice raises concerns about a rise in discrimination of workers with protected characteristics under the Equality Act 2010, that could, in turn, lead to a reversal of positive labour market trends over recent years, such as a 5 per cent increase in partnered women with children in employment, and a 5.6 per cent reduction in the gap between the disabled and non-disabled employment rate.

Furthermore, it warns that gaps in the effectiveness of the current system for enforcing anti-discrimination employment law are adding to the problem. In particular, it highlights that the Equality and Human Rights Commission is unable to provide a ‘reliable’ method to challenge discrimination, and the employment tribunal system is unlikely to be able to provide justice on the scale and pace needed to deal with the employment cases arising from the current jobs crisis, warning that -

'Without urgent action the current wave of redundancies are likely to increase the inequality faced by mothers and disabled people. The current crisis is unprecedented in recent times. The sheer number of redundancies that we expect to see is vast and currently, there is no organisation that has the resources or powers to take the direct action needed. '

To that end, Citizens Advice calls for the government to -

Chief Executive of Citizens Advice Gillian Guy said today -

'Employers face difficult choices but there are worrying signs disabled workers, people who shielded, parents and carers are being pushed to the front of the queue when it comes to redundancy. 

As tough as these times are, they cannot be used as an excuse to break the rules. 

If someone is facing an unfair redundancy, the odds of getting redress under the current system are stacked against them. Workers need a watchdog that will be a one-stop shop to protect their employment rights.'

For more information, see Parents, carers and disabled people at least twice as likely to face redundancy, warns Citizens Advice.