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New measures to prevent workplace discrimination go live

New laws to prevent discrimination in the workplace on grounds of sexual orientation or religion come into force this week. The Sexual Orientation regulations become law in Great Britain today, 1 December and the Religion or Belief regulations tomorrow, 2 December.

The new Regulations implement strands of the European Employment Directive (Council Directive 2000/78/EC). The Employment Directive outlaws discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation, religion or belief, disability and age in employment and vocational training. Amendments to the Disability Discrimination Act 1995 implementing the Directive will come into force in October 2004 and new legislation outlawing discrimination on grounds of age by the end of 2006.

They apply to all employers/businesses whatever their size and whether in the public or private sector (including the police), and they apply to recruitment, terms and conditions, pay, promotion, transfers and dismissals.

The Regulations apply across Great Britain (England, Scotland and Wales). Legislation outlawing discrimination on grounds of religion or belief has been in existence in Northern Ireland already. Separate Regulations outlawing discrimination on grounds of sexual orientations are being introduced in Northern Ireland.

The Regulations apply throughout the employment/vocational training relationship - during the recruitment process, in the workplace/training place, on dismissal and, in certain circumstances, after the employment/vocational training has finished.

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