Proposed new anti-discrimination legislation may dilute existing protection for workers, higher education's equality watchdog has said.
A planned Single Equality Bill would cover all discrimination currently covered by separate legislation such as the Sex Discrimination Act and Race Relations Act.
But the Equality Challenge Unit said the Bill could "halt or limit the significant steps forward that have been made over recent years".
The ECU's draft response to a consultation says: "The most significant omission... is the apparent move away from an evidence-based approach." Currently, public-sector employers are required to monitor the racial mix of their employees, for example. The new law would abolish this requirement.
The Bill at present does not include discrimination on the basis of age, sexual orientation, religion or belief.
Kate Heasman, head of equality at the University and College Union, said: "The proposals have been greeted everywhere with deep disappointment."