Practical guide to the Equality Act 2010

What is the Equality Act 2010 ? The Equality Act is a piece of legislation which will bring together a number of rights employees have in the work place, to make one piece of legislation. This Act, which was given legal authority in October 2010, aims to make it clearer what could be considered unacceptable

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What is the Equality Act 2010 ?

The Equality Act is a piece of legislation which will bring together a number of rights employees have in the work place, to make one piece of legislation. This Act, which was given legal authority in October 2010, aims to make it clearer what could be considered unacceptable treatment for employers. It also widens the scope of some employee’s rights.

Who does the Act apply to?

The Act applies to businesses or organisations that provide goods and services to the public whether they are offered in exchange for payment or not. It also applies to any business or organisation that employs individuals. This means the scope of the Act is far-reaching and any business type, organisation or individual who deals with people should familiarise themselves with the Act’s content.

Which Acts did the Equality Act bring together?

The Race Relations Act 1976; the Sex Discrimination Act 1970; The Disability Discrimination Act 1995; The Equality Act (Sexual Orientation) Regulations 2007; The Employment Equality (Religion and Belief) Regulations 2003; The Employment Equality (Sexual Orientation) Regulations 2003; The Equal Pay Act 1970; The Employment Equality (Age) Regulations

What are the Act’s main aims ?

The Act aims to provide protection for individuals against discrimination, whether it is direct or indirect, harassment and victimisation in service and public functions and where any type of work relationship exists.

Who does the Act protect ?

The Act specifically protects nine characteristics. They are, age, disability, religion and belief or lack of belief, sexual orientation, gender reassignment, marriage and civil partnership, pregnancy and maternity,

The Act increases its level of protection by allowing, for example, direct and indirect disability claims. This means that those with the disability as well as those associated with someone with the protected characteristics, such as a carer, are protected. The Act also protects those who are perceived, but do not actually have, one of the characteristics.  The Act extends protection from 3rd party harassers to all protected characteristics.

The Act has also tweaked the definition of some of the definitions of the characteristics. It is now easier for a person who might be classed as disabled to fall under the Disability characteristic. The definition now states that a person is disabled if “they have a physical or mental impairment [which] has a long-term adverse effect on their ability to carry out normal activities”.  The Gender reassignment definition has also been amended as they are now provide protection for transsexual people who is proposing, undergoing or undergone a process for the purpose of sex reassignment. The Act no longer requires the person to be under medical supervision in order to be protected.

The Act has also limited the types of questions recruiters can ask about disability and health making it easier for disabled people to pass the employment screening process.

Ben Jones – Partner & head of employment law

If you are an employer concerned that your employment contracts, recruitment policies or other policies and procedures are not compliant with the Equality Act, we can help. If you are an employee and believe that your employer is discriminating against you, we can also help. Please contact me to discuss in a free initial call or meeting.

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