Preventing unlawful racial discrimination

From the 6th of April 2006, the Code of Practice on Racial Equality in Employment will become statutory. The Code of Practice was originally published as guidance on the 24th November 2005.

The statutory code will apply to employment and recruitment agencies in addition to all employers.

The code itself does not place any new duties on employers but it assists in clarifying your obligations legally. The code will also give employers practical guidance on how to carry out their duties to achieve equality of opportunity in the field of employment and to prevent unlawful racial discrimination.

The code will help you as an employer to understand and meet your legal obligations under the Race Relations Act. It will also aid you in setting up policies to treat all applicants and workers in the same way, irrespective of race, colour, nationality or ethnic or national origins. In addition you will also develop good employment practice in all areas of employment as well as creating a working environment that is free from unlawful direct and indirect racial discrimination and harassment. Other benefits experienced will include attracting the best person for the job from a wider pool of people and reducing the risks of legal liability and poor staff morale.

If the code is not followed it may count against you if you have to defend yourself at an employment tribunal against a complaint of racial discrimination or harassment.

The code will apply in England, Scotland and Wales, where it replaces the original 1984 code. Separate legislation applies to Northern Ireland.

May 2006

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