28/02/2002

Smaller businesses ambivalent about Equal Opportunities

According to a survey published this month nearly two-thirds of small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) in the UK feel that Equal Opportunities legislation has no impact on their business.

The research, which was carried out by Template Surveys on behalf of business consultancy SGS Consulting, found that identical proportions of SMEs (19 per cent) feel that Equal Opportunities legislation is beneficial and unfavourable.

These figures show a general ambivalence regarding laws designed to create equality in employment. The main legal reference points on Equal Opportunities are the 1975 Sex Discrimination Act which makes it illegal for employers to discriminate on the grounds of sex, the 1970 Equal Pay Act which ensures that pay rates are the same for identical or similar jobs and the 1976 Race Relations Act which outlaws discrimination on the grounds of colour, race, nationality and ethnic origin.

In March 2001 the government announced plans to appoint "fair pay champions" in an effort to combat the growing wage gap between men and women.

The survey relates to data collected from responses to an online questionnaire posted on the Internet and circulated in January 2002 by email to 5,000 Managing Directors of UK firms employing less than 500 staff.

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