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UKIP's plans for race discrimination law

18 March 2015 #Employment

With the general election looming, Mr Farage probably considers it a less than ideal time to become embroiled in a war of words with Channel 4.

According to Channel 4, Mr Farage confirmed in an interview last autumn that he would scrap “much of” race discrimination law. Mr Farage now says his comments have been “wilfully misinterpreted” in advance of the documentary due to be shown next week. Mr Farage says that he would reform equalities legislation to give employers more freedom as to who he or she employs. Adding that “there should be a presumption for British employers in favour of them employing British people as opposed to somebody from Poland.”  

Mr Farage’s comments have attracted widespread criticism from his political opponents but what would employment legislation look like if Mr Farage had his way? It appears from Mr Farage’s comments that in addition to removing race discrimination legislation, he would seek a complete overhaul of the current law surrounding positive action in recruitment and promotion.

Currently under section 159 of the Equality Act, where employers reasonably consider that persons with a particular protected characteristic (such as race)are disadvantaged or their participation in an activity is disproportionately low, those persons can be treated more favourably than others in recruitment or promotion. This is on the proviso that the person with the protected characteristic is “as qualified as” the other candidates who do not share the protected characteristic.

Under Mr Farage’s plans, section 159 of the Equality Act 2010 would have the opposite effect, allowing employers to favour only British workers for recruitment or promotion, regardless of whether they were as qualified as other non-British candidates.

The Equality and Human Rights Commission has commented as follows on this week’s events:

“Allowing employers to choose their workers because they are British rather than because they are the best candidates will not help businesses in the long run and is likely to worsen, rather than improve, divisions in our society.”

Clarkslegal, specialist Employment lawyers in London, Reading and throughout the Thames Valley.
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