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Employers plan gay worker monitoring to avoid discrimination

19th Aug 2003
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According to a report in the Independent, some UK firms are planning to carry out gay and lesbian audits of their staff in the hope of avoiding compensation claims for discrimination brought under new sexual orientation laws that take effect this December.

Guidance published by Acas, has apparently led to a surge of inquiries from organisations planning to use monitoring to identify how many gays and lesbians they employ, claims the report.

It says that the merchant bank JP Morgan and BT Group are among employers that are considering finding out how many gay and lesbian staff they employ before the regulations come into force. The London Fire Brigade has already asked its staff, who answered anonymously.

The Acas draft guidance, Sexual orientation in the workplace, advises that: "Organisations may consider asking a question about sexual orientation on their equal opportunities questionnaire" and also "consider seeking specialist assistance concerning the expert monitoring in this sensitive area".

Lawyers warn that requiring employees to disclose their sexual orientation may be a breach of the right to a private life, under Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights.

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