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Equality Act 2010

The new Equality Act came into force on 1st October 2010.  This Act brings together over 116 separate pieces of legislation into one single Act.  This provides a legal framework to protect the rights of individuals and advance equality of opportunity for all.

The Act will simplify, strengthen and harmonise the current legislation to provide Britain with a new discrimination law, which protects individuals from unfair treatment and promotes a fair and equal society.

The nine main pieces of legislation that have merged are:

  • Equal Pay Act 1970
  • Sex Discrimination Act 1975
  • Race Relations Act 1976
  • Disability Discrimination Act 1995
  • Employment Equality (Religion or Belief) Regulations 2003
  • Employment Equality (Sexual Orientation) Regulations 2003
  • Employment Equality (Age) Regulations 2006
  • Equality Act 2006, Part 2
  • Equality Act (Sexual Orientation) Regulations 2007

Who is protected by the Act?


Everyone in Britain is protected by the Act.  The 'protected characteristics' under the Act are:

  • Age
  • Disability
  • Gender reassignment
  • Marriage and civil partnership
  • Pregnancy and maternity
  • Race
  • Religion and belief
  • Sex
  • Sexual orientation

Main provisions

The main provisions that came into force on 1st October 2010 include:

  • The basic framework of protection against direct and indirect discrimination, harassment and victimisation in services and public functions
  • Changing the definition of gender reassignment
  • Providing protection for people who are discriminated against because they are either perceived to be or are associated with someone who has a protected characteristic i.e. carers
  • Clearer protection for breastfeeding mothers
  • Applying the European definition of indirect discrimination to all protected characteristics
  • Introducing a new concept of ‘discrimination arising from disability’
  • Making it more difficult for disabled people to be unfairly screened out when applying for jobs
  • Introducing new powers for employment tribunals to make recommendations which benefit the wider workforce