Equality Act 2010
14 . 07 . 10
The vast majority of the Equality Act provisions came into force on 1st October 2010. This legislation is designed to strengthen, harmonise and streamline 40 years of equality legislation, providing protection from discrimination across all the protected characteristics of:
- Gender reassignment
- Marriage and civil partnership
- Pregnancy and maternity
- Religion and belief
- Sexual orientation
The Equality Act applies to employers and service providers regardless of the size of the organisation or sector of work.
Most of the Employment, Services and Education provisions came into force on 1st October, whilst Public Sector Equality Duty provisions are scheduled to become effective in April 2011.
Immediate provisions relate to:
- 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, for example, who care for their disabled child.
- 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 third 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.
The RMS Disability Issues Consultancy will be closely monitoring the progress of the Act, with a particular interest on how it impacts or otherwise on disabled people.