Since the referendum on membership of the EU in June 2016, the Government has been planning how to proceed with ensuring the best deal for the UK. One of the commitments that the Government has made is to ensure that the same laws and rules apply after the UK is no longer a member of the EU as before it leaves. The Government has specifically mentioned that general rights should be protected and maintained and that there should be no regression in the rights of workers.
We conclude that ensuring that equality protections are maintained is not simply a matter of transposing existing EU law. In order to protect rights, the Government needs to take active steps to embed equality into domestic law and policy. The steps we recommend would entrench equality into the UK legal and policy framework and would ensure that the UK retains a strong, undiminished record of equality after it leaves the EU.
A summary of our main recommendations is outlined here:
(1) The Government should bring forward an amendment to the Equality Act 2010 to empower Parliament and the courts to declare whether legislation is compatible with UK principles of equality.
(2) The Government should include a clause in the Great Repeal Bill that explicitly commits to maintaining the current levels of equality protection when EU law is transposed into UK law.
(3) The Government should develop a cross-government equality strategy in order to ensure engagement across government departments and provide a platform for linking with and drawing on the expertise of civil society organisations.
(4) The Government should assess the extent of research and other equality initiatives that currently receive EU funds and replace and ring-fence these funds to allow current equalities research to continue undisrupted.
24 February 2017