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It has been well documented that the Church of England is publishing new guidelines to allow gay clergymen to become bishops. But what can you learn from this as a small-to-medium sized business owner?
First of all, a bit of background. The Church of England established in 1534. For nearly 500 years, the Church has been governed by its own rules and regulations. They have even been exempt from various laws in the UK.
But the Equality Act 2010 represents one of the most significant changes to employment legislation in recent history. Even the Church of England understands its importance and significance – and has had to change their ways to adhere to the new law.
For businesses, large or small, the Equality Act is imperative. It isn’t a case of acknowledging it, choosing to ignore it, and moving on – it must be firmly understood and acted on.
The Equality Act was introduced in October last year. Its aim was to simplify and strengthen the previous legislation; and to deliver a simple, modern and accessible framework of discrimination law, which protects individuals from unfair treatment and promotes a fair and more equal society.
So, businesses – from corner-shops to handymen and from international blue-chips to the Church of England – must take appropriate steps to prove they do not discriminate against any individual – applicant, interviewee, employee, client, and so on.
Recognising the importance of this, Canon Dr Chris Sugden, Executive Secretary of Anglican Mainstream, has said criteria for allowing homosexual clergy to become bishops has been drawn up.
If you haven’t already updated your contracts of employment, or re-looked at your recruitment strategies, you need to do so. You cannot risk falling foul of the Equality Act.