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Promoting equality is “simpler than you think”, says minister Jo Swinson

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Promoting equality in business is “simpler than [organisations] think”, with SMEs in particular perceiving the laws around it as “more burdensome” than they really are, employment relations minister Jo Swinson has said.

Yesterday, she told the British Chambers of Commerce's (BCC) 'Business is good for equality' event: "You don't need expensive equality consultants or to be up to your ears in policies. It's about common sense and using the tools available. You don't need to reinvent the wheel: there's lots of best practice out there."

"[Equality] is about what's good for business and what's good for economy. We don't have the luxury to grow our economy based on the talents of half the population."

Swinson was also promoting the Government's measures on shared parental leave (coming into force in 2015) and the right to request flexible working (coming into force in 2014).

She promised enforcing shared parental leave would be as "straightforward as possible". "It's not about employers having to be the police and checking in with the partner's employer," she said. "Both parents will need to fill out a simple form. Lying on that form will be fraud, and HMRC will deal with that."

Also speaking at the event was Adam Marshall, policy director at the BCC. He said: "Our message to Government is there should be no more legislation in this area. Let businesses implement what they've got, and we'll see growth follow."

Swinson said that, in the Government's drive to reduce red tape, the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills has adopted a "one in, two out" policy when it comes to new business regulation.