The government has rebuffed criticism over plans to implement increased positive action as part of its Equality Act reforms and offered employers guidance on how to conform to the legislation.

Equalities minister Lynne Featherstone recommended that bosses should familiarise themselves with the provisions of the regulations and warned against paying too much attention to “scare stories” in some sections of the press.

“Despite what you might have read in some quarters, positive action is absolutely not about political correctness, or red tape, or quotas,” she explained. “Positive action has the potential to make a real difference in the workplace.”

The laws are due to come into force from April 6th 2011 and will give managers the opportunity to appoint a candidate from an underrepresented demographic when choosing between two applicants of equal ability.

Equality and Human Rights Commission group director of regulation Sheila Kumar welcomed the changes, claiming they will make public sector groups better adjusted to the communities they serve.

Posted by Cameron Thomson