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Race Relations (Amendment) Act 2000 Briefing 116
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Race Relations (Amendment) Act 2000 Negotiators Guide116

April 2005

The Race Relations (Amendment) Act 2000 widened and strengthened the anti-discriminatory provisions of the 1976 Race Relations Act (RRA1976). It also added a new enforceable duty on key public bodies to promote race equality. The Act fulfilled a recommendation made by the Stephen Lawrence Inquiry Report, and extends coverage of the RRA 1976 to the functions of public authorities in general.

In March 2002 the Scottish Executive approved specific duties in order to help public authorities better meet the general duties laid out in the Act.: All Public Authorities had to publish a first Race Equality Scheme (RES) and education authorities a Race Equality Policy (REP) by November 2002 and hereafter three yearly. In July 2004 the Commission for Racial Equality (CRE) issued "minded letters" to 21 authorities which it believed were not meeting their legal duties under the Act. The new schemes are due in November 2005.

Branches are encouraged to become involved in reviewing the original scheme and developing the new one. In order to ensure that their employers are working to meet these legal requirements.

UNISON Scotland's Position

UNISON has consistently pressed employers to recognise and challenge racism in the workplace. UNISON is working with employers to develop a clear strategy and programme of work to implement their new duties. We are calling for the law to be extended to include private companies.

In 2001 a UNISON commissioned UK-wide survey by Labour Research Department revealed that:

  • Black and minority ethnic people are still under-represented in the workplace.
  • Employers claimed to have equal opportunities policies, but these did not translate into practice.

  • Employers did not necessarily review equalities policies or set targets to deal with the under-representation of black / minority ethnic workers.
  • Many black and minority ethnic workers faced abuse / harassment from the public.

What does the Act mean in your workplace?

The Act among others:

  • Outlawed discrimination (direct, indirect and victimisation) in public authority functions not covered by the 1976 Act and provided remedies.
  • Defined "public authority" widely as in the Human Rights Act, for the purpose of outlawing discrimination, so that it included public functions carried out by private sector organisations, and has only limited exemptions.
  • Placed a general duty on specified public authorities to work towards the elimination of unlawful discrimination, and to promote equality.
  • Empowered the Scottish Executive to impose specific duties on some/all public authorities on the general duty to promote race equality.
  • Gave the Commission for Racial Equality (CRE) powers to enforce the specific duties to be imposed on public authorities.
  • Gave the CRE powers to issue Codes of Practice to provide guidance on the Act.
  • Allowed race discrimination cases brought against education bodies to go directly to a sheriff, without a 2 month "cooling off" period.
  • Made chief officers of police vicariously liable for acts of discrimination carried out by their officers costs or expenses awarded as a result of a claim to be paid by the police authority.
  • Removed the powers for a Minister to issue conclusive certificates that racial discrimination was done for the purposes of national security and so was not unlawful.

What is a race equality scheme (RES)?

A RES is effectively a strategy, and a timetabled and realistic action plan. It should summarise a public authority's approach to race equality and its corporate aims. It should also say how the authority plans to carry out each part of the specific duty, in other words, its arrangements for:

  • Assessing, consulting on, and monitoring its functions and policies for any adverse impact on promoting race equality;
  • Publishing the results;
  • Making sure the public have access to its services; and
  • Training staff.

The Scheme should be:

  • Time-tabled and realistic

  • organised around achieving results
  • and should include routine monitoring by ethnic group of, amongst other things, employees and applicants for employment training and promotion

Action for Branches

The next Race Equality Schemes are due by November 2005. These should build on the plans laid out in the 2002 schemes reviewing progress and setting new targets. Branches are therefore encouraged to review the old scheme as preparation for becoming involved in developing the new schemes.

Obtain a copy of the 2002 scheme and review it.

Questions could include

  • Did the planned actions take place?
  • Were the targets met?

  • Did Race Awareness training take place?
  • Who took part in the training?

  • Is ethnic monitoring in place?
  • Are the results made public?

Making Use of the ethnic monitoring information

This Ethnic monitoring information gathered by employers should be publicly available. It can be useful for negotiating or for dealing with complaints raised by members.

In terms of ethnicity it will tell you

  • who is being employed
  • who is being promoted,
  • who is getting interviews and
  • who are not selected
  • who is getting training

The New Scheme

  • Recognised Trade Unions must be consulted on the scheme: be prepared
  • Equality target groups must also be consulted: consult with your black members
  • Find out who is the person responsible for developing the RES and ensuring the scheme is put into action
  • Do the priorities reflect the concerns of your members.
  • What targets do you think should be set
  • Have members received training on the Race Relations Amendment Act itself

Protection from racial harassment.

Employers must protect staff from racial abuse at work. This includes abuse from members of the public and other staff.

  • What policies are in place?
  • How effective are they?
  • Are incidents recorded and monitored
  • What changes have been made following incidents?
  • Do members report incidents?
  • How do they feel about how managers respond to reports?

UNISON Scotland want to ensure compliance with the Act in order to support its anti racist work. If you feel your employer is not complying with the Act or misses the November deadline for producing its new RES then contact Policy and Information team.

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