The Vice Chairman of the Conservative party Michael Fabricant has criticised retailer New Look for a policy, now changed, which excluded the partners of gay staff members.
New Look had confirmed that its staff discount was “under review”, after a PinkNews investigation revealed that its policy which allowed 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 have been in breach of the Act by “indirectly discriminating” against people in same-sex couples.
Just one business day later, New Look announced that the policy would be changed to include the staff member, and one other person. The line specifying that the person had to be someone “of the opposite-sex”, was removed.
Mr Fabricant told PinkNews: “That is great news. But it shouldn’t have come to this. Their HR department should be shot! Well done Pink News!”
A New Look spokesperson today confirmed to PinkNews: “In light of recent feedback from some of our New Look employees and having reviewed this internally, we have revised our current staff discount policy. Under the new guidelines, our employees will be entitled to a 50% discount for themselves and one other person of their choice.”
The change came following comments criticising the policy from ,Mr Freer, as well as Tory Vice Chair Michael Fabricant, Lib Dem peer Baroness Barker, leading gay rights charity Stonewall and Labour Shadow Minister for Women and Equalities Gloria De Piero.
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 the policy had been in breach of the Equality Act through “indirect discrimination”.
New Look, which had a turnover of £1.25 billion in the last year, is one of the largest privately owned business in the UK.