In 2003, a report evaluating the availability of employment advice services in Wales, described the situation as 'an advice desert' (Snakes and Ladders 2002).
The research was jointly commissioned by Wales' statutory equality commissions; EOC, DRC and CRE. Focusing only on existing legislation at the time, the new Employment Equality Regulations (2003) for sexual-orientation, religion and belief, and age (comes into force in 2006), were not considered. This means that we can anticipate that the dire situation in information provision and advice giving for gender, race and disability, is much worse for sexual orientation.
The report found:
The report indicates that this lack of provision in Wales results in considerable difference between there being formal employment equality law and being able to attain justice in practice:
Applicants from Wales do not enter the tribunal system on equal terms with their counterparts in other parts of the UK and may not be able to secure comparable outcomes (p. 4)
There is lower per capita funding of generalist providers in Wales by comparison with England (p.10)
There is considerable unmet need in Wales. As many potential applicants do not enter the system of redress following discrimination at work due to geographical, economic, psychological and cultural barriers (p.8)
Since the report the EOC and DRC have worked closely with Citizens Advice on transfer of expertise issues.
MEWN Cymru, the campaigning organisation for minority ethnic women in Wales has commissioned a further report on overcoming cultural barriers to provide appropriate delivery of advice services www.mewn-cymru.org.uk
The Legal Service Commission has produced a new advice strategy for Wales based upon partnership working. This aims to ensure that formal legal equality translates into social justice by helping people to enforce their rights.
However, at present there is no dedicated service providing advice for lesbians, gay men or bisexual people in Wales. Nor is there expertise to work with existing advice providers and statutory commissions to transfer information, insights into cultural barriers and expertise around sexual orientation workplace issues.