The Vice Chair of the Conservative Party Michael Fabricant has become the latest to weigh in on a staff discount policy at retail giant New Look, which may be in breach of the Equality Act by “indirectly discriminating” against gay couples.
New Look has confirmed that its staff discount is “under review”, after a PinkNews investigation revealed that its policy which allows a 50% discount to employees, and the same discount to one other person specifically of the opposite sex, could be in breach of the Equality Act 2010.
Despite that New Look specifically stated that the discount was “absolutely not designed to be a couples benefit”, a leading law firm advised PinkNews that the policy may be in breach of the Act by “indirectly discriminating” against people in same-sex couples.
Speaking to PInkNews, Mr Fabricant said: “I am surprised and slightly alarmed that a trendy clothing chain like New Look can be so old fashioned in their treatment of gay employees. Their HR department should have spotted this.”
Comparing the policy to that at fellow retailer John Lewis, Mr Fabricant said: “What a contrast with John Lewis which has offered discounts to couples comprising staff who have same sex partners for years. John Lewis even actively encourage gay staff to form social groups within each John Lewis branch.”
A New Look spokesperson had responded to say: “At New Look we are committed to listening to our employees to make sure they are being treated fairly and we continually review policies to make sure they match this. In light of recent feedback from our employees on our staff discount privileges we are reviewing our current policy in its entirety and ask for sufficient time to complete this.”
Following comments criticising the policy from Mr Fabricant and Labour Shadow Minister for Women and Equalities Gloria De Piero, the company reiterated that the policy was “under review”, but that “we will not be commenting on the issue further.”
Mark Bramwell, a Solicitor at MyLawyer, a firm providing legal services for customers of Barclays, Natwest and RBS, The AA and Admiral, had advised PinkNews that in his opinion: ”This is clearly indirect discrimination of gay staff and a breach of the Equality Act 2010.”