article icon

Equality Act 2010

10 October 2010

The Equality Bill was a long time coming and there were various consultations, all of which the CWU contributed to. The main provisions of the Equality Bill came into force on 1 October 2010.

The CWU's national equality officer, Linda Roy, welcomed the Bill adding:

"The amalgamation of the nine discrimination laws and the various other statutory instruments sees the law become more effective and there are obvious areas where workers rights have become stronger".

The Equality Act 2010

The Act simplifies and brings into one act existing discrimination law including:
  • Equal Pay Act 1970,
  • Sex Discrimination Act 1975,
  • Race Relations Act 1976,
  • Disability Discrimination Act 1995,
  • Equality Act 2006, part 2,
  • Employment Equality (Religion or Belief) Regulations 2003,
  • Employment Equality (Sexual Orientation) Regulations 2003,
  • Employment Equality (Age) Regulations 2006,
  • Equality Act (Sexual Orientation) Regulations 2007).

Key Concepts

The Act defines the various kinds of discrimination with reference to the characteristics which are protected under the Act.
  • Direct Discrimination
    Direct Discrimination is defined as:
    'A person (A) discriminates against another (B) if, because of a protected characteristic, A treats B less favourably than A treats or would treat others'.
    • Association and Perception
      The new definition of direct discrimination also covers a situation where someone is treated less favourably than another person because they are thought to have a protected characteristic (discrimination by perception) or because they associate with someone who has a protected characteristic (discrimination by association).
    • Dual Discrimination
      There is a new category of dual discrimination, which allows claims of discrimination to be brought in relation to a combination of two protected characteristics. Dual discrimination claims can only be brought in relation to direct discrimination.
  • Indirect Discrimination
    Indirect discrimination is defined as:
    A person (A) discriminates against another (B) if A applies to B a provision, criterion or practice which is discriminatory in relation to a relevant protected characteristic of B's.
  • Discrimination arising from Disability
    This is a new provision. Under Section 15 a person discriminates against a disabled person if he/she treats them unfavourably because of something arising in consequence of their disability, and this treatment cannot be justified as a proportionate means of achieving a legitimate aim.
  • Harassment
    Harassment is defined as:
    'unwanted conduct related to a relevant protected characteristic, which has the purpose or effect of violating an individual's dignity or creating an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment for that individual'.
  • Victimisation
    Victimisation occurs when an employer or service provider subjects a person to a detriment because the person has carried out (or you believe they have or may carry out) what is referred to as a 'protected act'.
  • The Protected Characteristics
    In order to harmonise the various discrimination strands that have developed under previous legislation the new Act has collectively termed them as the 'protected characteristics'. The protected characteristics are:
    • Age
    • Disability
    • Gender reassignment
    • Marriage and Civil Partnership
    • Pregnancy and maternity
    • Race
    • Religion or Belief
    • Sex
    • Sexual orientation
  • The Act also covers lesgislation concerning:
    • Pre-Employment Health Related Checks,
    • Equal Pay,
    • Pay Secrecy,
    • Gender Pay Reporting,
    • Default Retirement Age,
    • Employment Tribunal power to make recommendations,
    • Burden of Proof,
    • Employment Tribunals