Table of chages to the Equality Act 2010



Equality Act guidance notes. Produced by the Equality and Human Rights Commission

Equality Act 2010: What do I need to know? Guides to the key changes in the law, produced by the Government Equalities Office, the British Chambers of Commerce, Citizens Advice, ACAS and the Equality and Diversity Forum.



The Equality Act 2010

The Equality Act 2010 pulls together several different strands of discrimination legislation including the Disability Discrimination Act. It is designed to be simpler way to protect individuals from unfair treatment as a result of discrimination. Most of the provisions of the Act came into force on the 1st October 2010.

The Equality Act sets out a clearer route for those who feel discriminated against to take action. It also gives a clearer understanding for service providers of the ways discrimination can happen, and the ways it can be addressed.

This summary is designed to give you brief overview of key aspects of the Act and the new ways in which people in the UK are protected against unfair treatment. For detailed guidance we recommend you follow the links provided.

Protected characteristics

The Equality Act sets out the personal characteristics that are protected by the law as 'protected characteristics' (previously called ‘grounds’). These are:

gender reassignment
marriage and civil partnership
pregnancy and maternity
race – including ethnic or national origins, colour and nationality
religion or belief
sexual orientation

What's new?

The Equality Act was designed to amalgamate the various forms of existing anti-discrimination legislation so there aren't major additions. But there have been some improvements, for example -

It is easier to prove disability: eg you no longer need to be registered disabled.

Indirect discrimination is extended to apply to disability and gender reassignment for the first time.

The prohibition on direct discrimination on grounds of pregnancy and maternity and gender reassignment will apply in schools for the first time.

The Act also introduces some new provisions such as the prohibition on discrimination arising from disability

Types of discrimination identified by the Equality Act

It is important to understand the different ways in which people can be discriminated against,

Direct discrimination: treating one person worse than another because of a protected characteristic

Indirect discrimination: a policy or action puts someone with a protected characteristic at a disadvantage compared to someone without one, and which cannot be objectively justified

Discrimination by association: eg if a carer is unable to visit a site because the person s/he cares for cannot access it.

Discrimination by perception: eg if someone is discriminated against because s/he is wrongly thought to be in one of the protected characteristics groups.

Disability and the Equality Act

On the Equalities web site the government states:

“"Disability has a broad meaning. It is defined as a physical or mental impairment that has a substantial and long-term adverse effect on the ability to carry out normal day-to-day activities. ‘Substantial’ means more than minor or trivial. ‘Impairment’ covers, for example, long-term medical conditions such as asthma and diabetes, and fluctuating or progressive conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis or motor neurone disease. A mental impairment includes mental health conditions (such as bipolar disorder or depression), learning difficulties (such as dyslexia) and learning disabilities (such as autism and Down’s syndrome). Some people, including those with cancer, multiple sclerosis and HIV/AIDS, are automatically protected as disabled people by the Act. People with severe disfigurement will be protected as disabled without needing to show that it has a substantial adverse effect on day-to­day activities."

The new Equality Act should bring the issues surrounding disability back to the top of the agenda as, by the governments own admission, progress on some issues has been stubbornly slow”. Hopefully we can look forward to more understanding and more uptake of an inclusive approach across the range of goods and service providers

Recognising discrimination by association is something that is very close to our hearts and particularly relevant to the design of public open space. In means that service providers should be aware that if a family group finds it impossible to access a place because one member of the family is disabled, any member of that group may justifiably feel discriminated against. This could well increase the likelihood of legal action compared with the previous Disability Discrimination Act (DDA).