Equality safeguards in work are not 'out of date': Law Centre lawyers respond

Thursday, March 12th 2015

News media today have been preoccupied with comments made by Nigel Farage, leader of the UK Independence Party (UKIP). In an interview recorded last autumn Mr Farage said that UKIP would scrap much of the legislation designed to prevent racial discrimination in work, because it is out of date.

This observation is simply not borne out by the experience of Law Centre lawyers across the country. Douglas Johnson, of Sheffield Citizens Advice and Law Centre, said:

“In our employment advice, the most severe cases of race discrimination are often based on the colour of a worker’s skin, whether they are British or not. In addition, there is a steady stream of cases of lower-level harassment based on nationality – or perceived nationality.

Will Stone, of Avon and Bristol Law Centre, has similar experience. He said:

“Laws designed to prevent racial discrimination in work have been in place for nearly 50 years and have protected all workers from unfavourable treatment on the grounds of race or nationality.

“We are contacted daily by workers describing treatment they have suffered because of their race or nationality. This includes non-payment of wages, failure to provide pay slips required by law, long and unsocial hours and poor, sometimes unsafe working conditions, as well as harassment and dismissal.

“Scrapping equality laws will not lead to improved conditions or treatment but will amount to a charter for inequality – truly an immense step backwards.

The Law Centres Network believes that the key to improving prospects for all workers, British and migrant alike, is to work towards improving conditions and strengthening enforcement of current laws, as well as access to legal advice and redress. 

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