HL Deb 06 June 1996 vol 572 cc138-9WA
Baroness Oppenheim-Barnes

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What conclusions have been reached following the recent public consultation on an employment Code of Practice and employment regulations under the Disability Discrimination Act 1995.

Lord Henley

Over 670 replies were received from organisations and individuals by the close of the consultation period at the end of March. This was a welcome and helpful response.

Most respondents considered that the draft code could be improved in the way it gave guidance on the employment provisions in the Act and helped employers avoid discrimination in all areas of employment. There was also a great deal of support for the code to contain more illustrative examples. Although most respondents considered that the length of the draft was about right, the constructive comments they, and others, made could not be taken into account without substantial revision.

We have therefore arranged to lay before Parliament today a redrafted Code of Practice relating to the elimination of discrimination in the field of employment against disabled people and people who have had a disability. The code includes many illustrative examples and significant additional guidance about the employment provisions of the Act, as well as information about how complaints might be made and how to seek further information, and a comprehensive index. It should now meet the needs of organisations of all sizes covered by the Act's employment provisions.

The proposals for employment regulations were supported by a majority of those who expressed a view and only minor changes have been needed to deal with some issues which were identified during the consultation process. As a result, we have also laid before Parliament today the Disability Discrimination (Employment) Regulations 1996.

The consultation exercise also sought views on two issues for which we made no proposals for regulations but were interested in opinions about the merit of possible change. One issue was the setting of a financial cap for making a reasonable adjustment. A clear majority of those who expressed a view were not in favour of a cap, and the department is not proposing to introduce one when the employment provisions are commenced.

The other issue was whether the duty of reasonable adjustment should apply to aspects of physical features of buildings or extensions which meet the British Standard 5810. A clear majority of those who expressed a view considered it should apply and we do not propose to introduce regulations on this issue. Therefore no aspect of a building will be exempted from the duty of reasonable adjustment simply because it meets BS5810.

We have decided that the employment provisions of the Disability Discrimination Act 1995 will commence on 2nd December 1996. The draft Code of Practice and the Disability Discrimination (Employment) Regulations 1996 will also commence on that date, subject to completion of the Parliamentary procedure. The code will be published as soon as possible, to give employers and others affected by the employment provisions time to take account of its guidance.

A statistical analysis of the responses to the consultation is being placed in the Library.