Carers UK has hailed a government pledge to effectively outlaw discrimination against carers in employment and the provision of goods and services.
Minister for women and equality Harriett Harman said today that the forthcoming Equality Bill would prohibit direct discrimination and harassment against people based on their association with disabled or older people.
The provision will give statutory backing to a landmark 2008 European Court of Justice ruling, which found Sharon Coleman had been treated unfavourably by her ex-employer, law firm Attridge Law, because she had a disabled son.
Coleman said she had been prevented from resuming the same job on her return from maternity leave and was accused of being “lazy” when she needed to take time off to care for her child.
The provisions in the Equality Bill will go beyond the Coleman judgement in applying to the provision of goods and services as well as employment.
Carers UK chief executive Imelda Redmond said: “This is highly significant decision for carers. Ministers have listened to our arguments and recognised the equality challenges that carers face every day and the urgent need to protect them from discrimination.”
Currently UK law prohibits direct discrimination and harassment by association on grounds of race, religion, belief and sexual orientation. People are also protected from discrimination if they are wrongly perceived to belong to a particular race, subscribe to a particular religion or belief or have a particular sexual orientation.
The Equality Bill will extend the prohibition on associative and perceptive discrimination and harassment to sex and gender reassignment, as well as disability and age.