Headlines: April 3rd, 2009

Plans to ban discrimination against carers have been welcomed by a national charity which says it regularly hears of carers being treated unfairly. The Women’s Minister, Harriet Harman, has said the forthcoming Equality Bill will include protection for those who are ‘associated with’ someone who is disabled.

In a written statement she said the provision would apply in employment and in the provision of goods, facilities and services. Its inclusion in the Bill, which is expected to be published later this month, was welcomed by the charity Carers UK, which said it was a highly significant decision for carers.

Harriet Harman said the extension of the Bill would implement a European Court of Justice ruling last year in the case of Sharon Coleman, the mother of a disabled son, who claimed she had to leave her job because she was not allowed enough flexibility in her working arrangements.

Imelda Redmond, chief executive of Carers UK said the charity had consistently lobbied for greater rights for carers. “We hear regularly through our helpline that carers are being discriminated against,” she said. Putting the commitment into the Bill meant carers would be able to assert their right not to be discriminated against and in giving the same rights against ‘discrimination by association’ across all protected groups such as age, race and sexual orientation, as well as disability, the Government was providing consistency and clarity.

“We particularly welcome the extension of protection in goods, facilities and services as this was not part of the Coleman judgment but will be an important protection in ensuring that carers get access to public services, financial services and in other areas like housing,” she added.