The Equality Act became law in October 2010. It replaces previous legislation (such as the Race Relations Act 1976 and the Disability Discrimination Act 1995) and ensures consistency in what you need to do to make your workplace a fair environment and to comply with the law.
The Equality Act covers the same groups that were protected by existing equality legislation – age, disability, gender reassignment, race, religion or belief, sex, sexual orientation, marriage and civil partnership and pregnancy and maternity – but extends some protections to groups not previously covered, and also strengthens particular aspects of equality law.
The Equality Act is a mixture of rights and responsibilities that have:
Stayed the same – for example, direct discrimination still occurs when “someone is treated less favourably than another person because of a protected characteristic”
Changed – for example, employees will now be able to complain of harassment even if it is not directed at them, if they can demonstrate that it creates an offensive environment for them
Been extended – for example, associative discrimination (direct discrimination against someone because they associate with another person who possesses a protected characteristic) will cover age, disability, gender reassignment and sex as well as race, religion and belief and sexual orientation
Been introduced for the first time – for example, the concept of discrimination arising from disability, which occurs if a disabled person is treated unfavourably because of something arising in consequence of their disability.
As a result, you may need to review and change some of your policies and practices.
For an ‘at a glance’ look at what’s new and what’s changed click here.
To read our previous post on the Equality Act click here.
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