The Equality Act 2010 legally protects people from discrimination in the workplace and in wider society.
It replaced previous anti-discrimination laws with a single Act, making the law easier to understand and strengthening protection in some situations. It sets out the different ways in which it’s unlawful to treat someone.
Find out more about who is protected from discrimination, the types of discrimination under the law and what action you can take if you feel you’ve been unfairly discriminated against.
Discrimination: making a complaint
Before the Act came into force there were several pieces of legislation to cover discrimination, including:
- Sex Discrimination Act 1975
- Race Relations Act 1976
- Disability Discrimination Act 1995
If you wish to complain about possible unlawful treatment there are 2 separate processes, depending on when it happened.
Complaints: before October 2010
If you were subjected to unlawful treatment (eg discrimination, harassment or victimisation) before 1 October 2010, the Equality Act won’t apply. Instead, you’ll be covered by the legislation that was in force at the time.
For example, if you experienced race discrimination on 30 September 2010 and want to make a complaint or bring legal proceedings, the Race Relations Act 1976 will apply, not the Equality Act.
This is also true of any legal proceedings. They will go ahead according to the legislation under which they were brought, even if they may have continued after 1 October 2010.
Complaints: after October 2010
If you were subject to unlawful treatment on or after 1 October 2010, the Equality Act applies.
For example, if you experienced sex discrimination on 30 September 2010, which continued until 2 October 2010, the Equality Act will apply, not the Sex Discrimination Act.
Find out more about how to complain about unlawful treatment in the Discrimination: your rights guide.
Equality Act provisions: commencement dates
To allow people and organisations enough time to prepare for the new laws, the provisions of the Act were brought in at different times (known as commencement dates).
Equality Act provisions which came into force on 1 October 2010:
- the basic framework of protection against direct and indirect discrimination, harassment and victimisation in services and public functions, premi, work, education, associations and transport
- changing the definition of gender reassignment, by removing the requirement for medical supervision
- providing protection for people discriminated against because they are perceived to have, or are associated with someone who has, a protected characteristic
- clearer protection for breastfeeding mothers
- applying a uniform definition of indirect discrimination to all protected characteristics
- harmonising provisions allowing voluntary positive action
Provisions relating to disability
- extending protection against indirect discrimination to disability
- introducing the 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 against harassment of employees by third parties 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
Provisions relating to work
- 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
Equality Act provisions which came into force in April 2011:
- positive action - recruitment and promotion
- public sector Equality Duty (see section below)
Ministers are considering how to implement the remaining provisions in the best way for business and for others with rights and responsibilities under the act. Their decisions will be announced in due course.
Equality Act Provisions that the government has decided not to take forward:
- public sector duty regarding socio-economic inequalities
- combined discrimination - dual characteristics
The Equality Act 2010 includes provisions that ban age discrimination against adults in the provision of services and public functions. The ban came into force on 1 October 2012 and it is now unlawful to discriminate on the basis of age unless:
- the practice is covered by an exception from the ban
- good reason can be shown for the differential treatment (‘objective justification’)
The ban on age discrimination is designed to ensure that the new law prohibits only harmful treatment that results in genuinely unfair discrimination because of age. It does not outlaw the many instances of different treatment that are justifiable or beneficial.
You can read the original consultation on the archived Government Equalities Office website.
There is an overview of how the ban works and tailored guides for small businesses, private clubs and the holiday sector in the Equality Act guidance.
Age discrimination: exceptions
The government response to the consultation includes the draft Exceptions Order. You can also read the impact assessment.
Exceptions under the Order are:
- age-based concessions
- age-related holidays
- age verification
- clubs and associations concessions
- financial services
- residential park homes
These specific exceptions are in addition to:
- general exceptions already allowed by the Act
- positive action measures
- ‘objective justification’
There are no specific exceptions to the ban on age discrimination for health or social care services. This means that any age-based practices by the NHS and social care organisations need to be objectively justified, if challenged.
Public sector Equality Duty
The public sector Equality Duty came into force across Great Britain on 5 April 2011.It means that public bodies have to consider all individuals when carrying out their day-to-day work – in shaping policy, in delivering services and in relation to their own employees.
It also requires that public bodies have due regard to the need to:
- eliminate discrimination
- advance equality of opportunity
- foster good relations between different people when carrying out their activities
Who the Equality Duty applies to
The Equality Duty applies across Great Britain to the public bodies listed in Schedule 19 (as amended), and to any other organisation when it is carrying out a public function.
The Equality Act 2010 (Specific Duties) Regulations 2011 came into force on 10 September 2011.
The specific duties require public bodies to publish relevant, proportionate information showing compliance with the Equality Duty, and to set equality objectives.
Guidance for public bodies
The Government Equalities Office has published 2 quick-start guides to help public bodies understand the Equality Duty and the specific duties:
- Quick start guide: public sector Equality Duty
- Quick start guide: Specific duties
The Equality and Human Rights Commission is the statutory body established to help eliminate discrimination and reduce inequality. The Commission has published new non-statutory guidance on:
- The essential guide to the public sector Equality Duty
- Meeting the Equality Duty in policy and decision-making
- Engagement and the Equality Duty
- Equality objectives and the Equality Duty
- Equality information and the Equality Duty
- Technical guidance on the public sector Equality Duty - England
Section 153 of the act enables the Welsh and Scottish ministers to impose specific duties on certain Welsh and Scottish public bodies through secondary legislation. For Welsh and cross-border Welsh public bodies, specific duties have been finalised by the Welsh Assembly government and came into force on 6 April 2011.
For Scottish public bodies, the Scottish government launched a consultation on revised draft Regulations for specific duties on 9 September 2011. The consultation closed on 25 November 2011.
Guidance on the Equality Duty specific to Wales and Scotland is available from the Equality and Human Rights Commission.
Equalities Act 2010: legislation
Equality Act 2010 on the legislation.gov.uk website
Explanatory notes on the legislation.gov.uk website
Legislation repealed or revoked by the Equality Act
A list of all legislation that was repealed or revoked on 1 October 2010 is available in Schedule 27 to the act.
Equality Act Statutory Instruments
Statutory Instruments made under the act are available:
- all UK Statutory Instruments related to the Equality Act on the legislation.gov.uk website
- all Welsh Statutory Instruments related to the Equality Act on the legislation.gov.uk website
- all Scottish Statutory Instruments related to the Equality Act on the legislation.gov.uk website
Guidance on the Equality Act
We have produced a series of guides outlining the key changes in the law made by the act .
To sign up to receive email updates of the work of the Government Equalities Office please contact GEOcomms@geo.gsi.gov.uk.
The Equality Act 2010 legally protects people from discrimination in the workplace and in wider society. It replaced previous anti-discrimination laws with a single Act, making the law easier to understand and strengthening protection in some situations.What are the 3 main purposes of the Equality Act 2010? ›
The Equality Act became law in 2010. It covers everyone in Britain and protects people from discrimination, harassment and victimisation. The information on the your rights pages is here to help you understand if you have been treated unlawfully.What are the 9 principles of the Equality Act 2010? ›
These are age, disability, gender reassignment, marriage and civil partnership, pregnancy and maternity, race, religion or belief, sex, and sexual orientation.What are the legal requirements of the Equality Act 2010? ›
The Equality Act is a law which protects you from discrimination. It means that discrimination or unfair treatment on the basis of certain personal characteristics, such as age, is now against the law in almost all cases.What are the 7 types of prohibited conduct Equality Act 2010? ›
- direct discrimination.
- discrimination arising from disability.
- gender reassignment discrimination: cases of absence from work.
- pregnancy and maternity discrimination.
- indirect discrimination.
In summary, those subject to the general equality duty must have due regard to the need to: Eliminate unlawful discrimination, harassment and victimisation. Advance equality of opportunity between different groups. Foster good relations between different groups.What are the 4 main types of discrimination? ›
There are four main types of discrimination: Direct discrimination, indirect discrimination, harassment and victimisation.What are the 7 types of discrimination? ›
- Age Discrimination.
- Disability Discrimination.
- Sexual Orientation.
- Status as a Parent.
- Religious Discrimination.
- National Origin.
- Sexual Harassment.
- Direct discrimination.
- Indirect discrimination.
Unconscious bias. Women's under-estimation/lack of belief of their abilities to do the most senior roles. Lack of sponsorship. Racism.
Reasonable adjustments under equality law
This is the duty for employers to make reasonable adjustments. The aim of the duty is to make sure that, as far as is reasonable, disabled workers have the same access to everything involved in doing and keeping a job as non-disabled workers.
The Equal Status Acts 2000-2018 ('the Acts') prohibit discrimination in the provision of goods and services, accommodation and education. They cover the nine grounds of gender, marital status, family status, age disability, sexual orientation, race, religion, and membership of the Traveller community.What conditions are covered under the Equality Act? ›
The definition is set out in section 6 of the Equality Act 2010. It says you're disabled if: you have a physical or mental impairment. your impairment has a substantial and long-term adverse effect on your ability to do normal day-to-day activities.What conditions are automatically covered by the Equality Act? ›
- an HIV infection.
- multiple sclerosis (MS)
- a visual impairment – if someone is certified as blind, severely sight impaired, sight impaired or partially sighted.
Businesses that choose not to comply with the law are likely to face a number of issues: employers could find themselves in court or an employment tribunal which means they may have to pay expensive legal fees. employers may have to pay fines and compensation if they break employment laws.What are 5 grounds of discrimination? ›
- National or Ethnic Origin.
3 (1) For all purposes of this Act, the prohibited grounds of discrimination are race, national or ethnic origin, colour, religion, age, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, marital status, family status, genetic characteristics, disability and conviction for an offence for which a pardon has been ...What are the 13 grounds of discrimination? ›
The grounds are: citizenship, race, place of origin, ethnic origin, colour, ancestry, disability, age, creed, sex/pregnancy, family status, marital status, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, receipt of public assistance (in housing) and record of offences (in employment).Does the Equality Act 2010 cover mental health? ›
A mental health condition is considered a disability if it has a long-term effect on your normal day-to-day activity. This is defined under the Equality Act 2010.How does the Equality Act relate to safeguarding? ›
Anti-discriminatory practice is fundamental to the ethical basis of care provision and critical to the protection of people's dignity. The Equality Act protects those receiving care and the workers that provide it from being treated unfairly because of any characteristics that are protected under the legislation.
Positive action is about taking specific steps to improve equality in your workplace. For example, to increase the number of disabled people in senior roles in which they are currently under-represented.What are 3 examples of duties? ›
- Obeying the law. Every U.S. citizen must obey federal, state and local laws, and pay the penalties that can be incurred when a law is broken.
- Paying taxes. ...
- Serving on a jury when summoned. ...
- Registering with the Selective Service.
- Know the law. ...
- Understand what is meant by discrimination, victimisation and harassment. ...
- Leadership. ...
- Set standards of behaviour and create an inclusive culture. ...
- Have a clear, published complaints policy. ...
- Provide training. ...
- Make reasonable adjustments. ...
- Have a clear, published social media policy.
Equality is divided into five rough types: political equality, equality of outcome or result, equality of opportunity, equality of treatment and equality of membership in society. These types of equality are described separately.What is the most common discrimination? ›
The most prevalent forms of discrimination in the workplace seen today are race and national origin. Discrimination based on national origin occurs when a business is opened by persons of one nationality who then discriminate in their hiring practices by only hiring other persons of their own nationality.What are two examples of unfair treatment in the workplace? ›
Here are just a few examples of unfair treatment at work:
Creating offensive comments, emails or social media posts about an employee. Demoting, transferring, or dismissing an employee without a fair, disciplinary process. Paying women lower wages for doing the same job, because of their sex.
sex, pregnancy, marital status, family responsibilities, sexual orientation, gender identity, intersex status and relationship status: the Sex Discrimination Act 1984.What is discriminatory behavior? ›
Discrimination. The differential treatment of an individual or group of people based on their race, color, national origin, religion, sex (including pregnancy and gender identity), age, marital and parental status, disability, sexual orientation, or genetic information.What qualifies as workplace discrimination? ›
What is employment discrimination? Employment discrimination generally exists where an employer treats an applicant or employee less favorably merely because of a person's race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, national origin, disability or status as a protected veteran.How can you prove discrimination is unfair? ›
It provides that a complainant alleging unfair discrimination must prove, on a balance of probabilities, that: the conduct complained of is not rational; the conduct complained of amounts to discrimination; and. the discrimination is unfair.
- Compulsory discrimination by law;
- Discrimination based on affirmative action;
- Discrimination based on inherent requirements of a particular job;
- Discrimination based on productivity.
For instance, if a Christian is unrightfully chosen for a job over a Muslim individual, but it is not discernable that prejudice was present in the hiring process, this would qualify as an example of discrimination that is both subtle and formal in nature.What is it called when your manager treats you unfairly? ›
Bullying and Harassment
There are many forms of unfair treatment or harassment, and these include: Spreading malicious rumours about you. Treating you unfairly. Picking on you.
We will not tolerate discrimination – on the basis of, among other things, age, sex, sexual orientation, race, national origin, religion or disability – as well as sexual or psychological harassment, or violence in the workplace.What is the biggest barrier to inclusion? ›
Attitudes: Societal norms often are the biggest barrier to inclusion. Old attitudes die hard, and many still resist the accommodation of students with disabilities and learning issues, as well as those from minority cultures.What are the three features of equality? ›
Equality has three Basic elements: Absence of special privileges in society. Presence of adequate and equal opportunities for development of all. Equal satisfaction of basic needs of all.What attitudes may lead to discriminatory Behaviour? ›
Education about prejudice, stereotyping, overgeneralization, scapegoating, egoism, authoritarianism, relative deprivation and other factors that could lead to discriminatory behavior should be provided so people can understand why they discriminate and how to prevent it.What are barriers examples? ›
Concrete barriers surround the race track to protect spectators. The tree's roots serve as a barrier against soil erosion. The mountain range forms a natural barrier between the two countries. Both leaders are in favor of removing trade barriers.
Your employer's duty of care in practice
make the workplace safe. prevent risks to health. make sure that plant and machinery is safe to use.
Employers must make reasonable adjustments to make sure workers with disabilities, or physical or mental health conditions, are not substantially disadvantaged when doing their jobs.
You must not be discriminated against in the workplace. This applies to all forms of discrimination including age, disability, sex, race, sexual orientation and religious beliefs.What are the most common types of discrimination in the workplace? ›
Unfair treatment because of your race, color, religion, sex (including pregnancy, gender identity, and sexual orientation), national origin, disability, age (age 40 or older), or genetic information.Can an employer treat employees differently? ›
Employers are allowed to treat workers differently based on their individual job performance and can discipline and reward them differently based on that. It is also not unlawful for an employer to treat an employee differently because of personality differences.What is equality in the workplace? ›
Equality in the workplace means equal job opportunities and fairness for employees and job applicants. You must not treat people unfairly because of reasons protected by discrimination law ('protected characteristics'). For example, because of a person's sex, age or race.What conditions automatically qualify you for disability UK? ›
The definition is set out in section 6 of the Equality Act 2010. It says you're disabled if: you have a physical or mental impairment. your impairment has a substantial and long-term adverse effect on your ability to do normal day-to-day activities.Is stress covered under the Equality Act? ›
To be considered substantial, the Act tells us that the stress would have to have a 'more than minor or trivial' effect on a claimant. Just how serious is stress? This will depend entirely on the individual.What does the Equality Act prohibit? ›
The Equality Act 2010 legally protects people from discrimination in the workplace and in wider society.Who is exempt from the Equality Act and why? ›
Certain employment is exempted from the Act, including: Priests, monks, nuns, rabbis and ministers of religion. Actors and models in the film, television and fashion industries (a British Chinese actress for a specific role, for instance).What are the exceptions to right to equality? ›
Exceptions to the Right of Equality
No criminal proceedings shall be instituted. No process for arrest or imprisonment during the term of office. No civil proceeding against them until the expiration of two months next after notice in writing has been delivered to the President or Governor.
In summary, the act of an employer would be seen to be unfair if it is one-sided, unnecessary and/or inappropriate under the circumstances or infringes on the employee's rights. As employees have very strong labour law rights employers need to ensure they understand these rights.
What are the consequences of non-compliance in the workplace? The absence of an effective health and safety management programme can affect the health and safety culture within the business, which in turn could have a disastrous impact on life, production, business continuation, time and money.What are the 10 prohibited grounds of discrimination? ›
3 (1) For all purposes of this Act, the prohibited grounds of discrimination are race, national or ethnic origin, colour, religion, age, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, marital status, family status, genetic characteristics, disability and conviction for an offence for which a pardon has been ...What are the 9 types of discrimination? ›
- Gender reassignment.
- Marriage and civil partnership.
- Pregnancy and maternity.
- Religion or belief.
(1) Unreasonable discrimination means unjust discrimination or unreasonable preference or prejudice; and. (2) Rate means rate, fare, or charge.What are the 5 main types of discrimination? ›
- Direct discrimination.
- Discrimination arising from disability.
- Indirect discrimination.
- Duty to make reasonable adjustments.
There are four main types of discrimination: Direct discrimination, indirect discrimination, harassment and victimisation.What is Article 11 of the Human Rights Act? ›
Everyone has the right to freedom of peaceful assembly and to freedom of association with others, including the right to form and to join trade unions for the protection of his interests.Is anxiety and depression a disability under the Equality Act? ›
Depression and other mental conditions often qualify as disabilities under the ADA, for which you can get a reasonable accommodation. By Lisa Guerin, J.D. Depression and other mental or emotional conditions can qualify as disabilities under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).Is anxiety a disability for work? ›
Key Takeaways. If anxiety is severely restricting a life function, it may be considered a disability protected by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). You can request accommodations such as a flexible schedule, support animal, or special rest area to help manage your anxiety.Which are the 6 key safeguarding principles? ›
- Empowerment. People being supported and encouraged to make their own decisions and informed consent.
- Prevention. It is better to take action before harm occurs.
- Proportionality. The least intrusive response appropriate to the risk presented.
- Protection. ...
- Partnership. ...
The purpose of the Equality Act 2010 is to protect people from discrimination in their work and other contexts and to support progress in equality. It is important that confidentiality agreements are used lawfully and in a way that supports equality while reducing discrimination.What are negative actions examples? ›
Negative Behavior Defined
Hostility or aggressiveness. Narcissism or lack of accountability or responsibility. Rudeness, disrespect or bullying toward colleagues or clients. Actions or statements that undermine team motivation or business goals. Resistance to change or criticism.
Direct discrimination is when you're treated differently and worse than someone else for certain reasons. The Equality Act says you've been treated less favourably. Direct discrimination can be because of: age. disability.What are the main points of the Equality Act 2010 in schools? ›
The Equality Act 2010 (“the Act”) makes it unlawful to discriminate against, harass or victimise someone on the basis of a protected characteristic – age, disability, gender reassignment, marriage and civil partnership, pregnancy and maternity, race, religion or belief, sex and sexual orientation.What are the key points of equality and diversity? ›
Equality is about ensuring everybody has an equal opportunity, and is not treated differently or discriminated against because of their characteristics. Diversity is about taking account of the differences between people and groups of people, and placing a positive value on those differences.What are the key points of an equality and diversity policy? ›
People will be treated with dignity and respect regardless of race, nationality, sex, sexual orientation, gender reassignment, disability and/or age. At all times people's feelings will be valued and respected.What are the key features of equality? ›
Thus Equality stands for 3 Basic Features:
(a) Absence of special privileges in society. (b) Presence of adequate and equal opportunities for development for all. (c) Equal satisfaction of basic needs of all.
As far as schools are concerned, for the most part, the effect of the current law is the same as it has been in the past – meaning that schools cannot unlawfully discriminate against pupils because of their sex, race, disability, religion or belief or sexual orientation.How does the Equality Act 2010 protect children? ›
The Equality Act protects your child in two main ways: It entitles your child to reasonable adjustments. It means education providers need to plan ahead and think about how they can remove any barriers that might disadvantage deaf or disabled children and young people.What is an example of equality in school? ›
Avoiding stereotypes in curricular resources and examples. Setting clear rules regarding how people treat each other. Treating all students and staff equally and fairly. Creating an all-inclusive environment for students and staff.
Unconscious bias. Women's under-estimation/lack of belief of their abilities to do the most senior roles. Lack of sponsorship. Racism.What are the 3 ways to handle diversity? ›
- Take a look at your recruiting and hiring practices. ...
- Establish mentoring opportunities. ...
- Promote team work. ...
- Make inclusion a priority. ...
- Provide Diversity Training.
Sources of Information, Advice and Support about Diversity, Equality and Inclusion
- Line manager or any other manager.
- Trade Unions.
- Law Centres or Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB)
- Advocacy and campaigning organisations.
When asked a question about diversity, discuss your direct experiences with people of different cultures. Refrain from saying you don't see color. Instead, explain the value of honoring diverse cultures and learning from others. If you are sincere in your answers to diversity questions, your true character will shine.What are the 3 types of equalities? ›
While identifying different kinds of inequalities that exist in society, various thinkers and ideologies have highlighted three main dimensions of equality namely, political, social and economic.What is a good example of equality? ›
Let's look at a few examples of equality and diversity in the workplace: Male and female workers doing the same job and receiving the same pay. Physical disabilities not restricting the carrying out of a role i.e. someone in a wheelchair doing the same job as someone sitting in a chair.What is equality in simple words? ›
What is equality? Equality is about ensuring that every individual has an equal opportunity to make the most of their lives and talents. It is also the belief that no one should have poorer life chances because of the way they were born, where they come from, what they believe, or whether they have a disability.