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The Equality Act 2010

Over the last four decades, discrimination legislation has played an important role in helping to make Britain a more equal society. However, the legislation was complex and, despite the progress that has been made, inequality and discrimination persist and progress on some issues has been stubbornly slow.

The Equality Act 2010  provides a new cross-cutting legislative framework to protect the rights of individuals and advance equality of opportunity for all; to update, simplify and strengthen the previous legislation; and to deliver a simple, modern and accessible framework of discrimination law which protects individuals from unfair treatment and promotes a fair and more equal society.

The provisions in the Equality Act will come into force at different times to allow time for the people and organisations affected by the new laws to prepare for them. The Government is considering how the different provisions will be commenced so that the Act is implemented in an effective and proportionate way.

Provisions in force from 1st October 2010

• The basic framework of protection against direct and indirect discrimination, harassment and victimisation in services and public functions; premises; work; education; associations, and transport
• Changing the definition of gender reassignment, by removing the requirement for medical supervision
• Levelling up protection for people discriminated against because they are perceived to have, or are associated with someone who has, a protected characteristic, so providing new protection for people like carers
• Clearer protection for breastfeeding mothers
• Applying the European definition of indirect discrimination to all protected characteristics
• Extending protection from indirect discrimination to disability
• Introducing a new concept of “discrimination arising from disability”, to replace protection under previous legislation lost as a result of a legal judgment
• Applying the detriment model to victimisation protection (aligning with the approach in employment law)
• Harmonising the thresholds for the duty to make reasonable adjustments for disabled people
• Extending protection from 3rd party harassment to all protected characteristics
• Making it more difficult for disabled people to be unfairly screened out when applying for jobs, by restricting the circumstances in which employers can ask job applicants questions about disability or health
• Allowing claims for direct gender pay discrimination where there is no actual comparator
• Making pay secrecy clauses unenforceable
• Extending protection in private clubs to sex, religion or belief, pregnancy and maternity, and gender reassignment
• Introducing new powers for employment tribunals to make recommendations which benefit the wider workforce
• Harmonising provisions allowing voluntary positive action

Provisions the Government is still considering

• the Socio-economic Duty on public bodies
• dual discrimination
• duty to make reasonable adjustments to common parts of leasehold and commonhold premises and common parts in Scotland
• gender pay gap information
• provisions relating to auxiliary aids in schools
• diversity reporting by political parties
• positive action in recruitment and promotion
• provisions about taxi accessibility
• prohibition on age discrimination in services and public functions
• family property
• civil partnerships on religious premises

The Equality & Human Rights Commission (EHRC) provides further information, guidance and resources on the Act.

Please visit the following link: