The Association of Convenience Stores (ACS) has warned the Government that the proposed Equality Bill could lead to extra costs for small local shops.

“The convenience store sector employs around 250,000 staff who value the local, flexible and social aspects of working in their local shop,” said ACS chief executive James Lowman (pictured).

“We absolutely support legal standards to support employees but we fear that the measures proposed in the Equality Bill will just heap more costs and bureaucracy on small stores.”

The ACS expressed concern over the proposed new right to bring cases using any combination of factors of alleged discrimination before a tribunal and the requirement for retailers to record and report the pay levels between male and female staff members.

“For independent stores, facing multiple tribunal cases as a result of a grievance by one member of staff is a distressing prospect,” adds Lowman.

“Larger groups of convenience stores face the additional burden of providing data on staff pay by gender. In a business where staff turnover is high, and where this data is unlikely to be collated centrally, such a requirement would represent a significant burden.”

Lowman was also concerned that the Bill, which is expected to come into force in autumn 2010, was being pushed through Parliament quickly. “This is a very complicated piece of legislation and it is essential that sufficient time is given for proper scrutiny.”

These concerns were submitted as part of the ACS’s response to the formal government consultation on the Equality Bill.