Equality Act - small changes that will make a big difference

Kate Bennett, National Director for Wales, Equality and Human Rights Commission, has welcomed the introduction of the Equality Act saying it brings “small changes that will make a big difference to people’s lives”.

The new Act, most of which comes into force today (1 October 2010), is the most significant development in equality law for 40 years. It brings together 116 pieces of equality legislation giving us simpler, stronger laws and levelling up legal protection offered across the nine protected characteristics  - age, disability, gender, gender reassignment, marriage and civil partnership, pregnancy and maternity, race, religion or belief, sexual orientation.
Examples of what the Act provides, include: 

  • Making it clear that mothers can breastfeed in public
  • Providing carers with greater protection from discrimination in the workplace and when using public services.
  • Tackling discrimination faced by people at private members clubs (with over 25 members)

The Act also makes it easier for businesses to understand their rights and responsibilities.
The Equality and Human Rights Commission is publishing a range of guidance to make sure individuals and organisations make the most of the new Act. This includes an online starter guide that is being launched today to coincide with the legislation coming into force.  The guide is aimed at private, public and voluntary sector organisations to help them understand their obligations under the new Act.
Kate Bennett, National Director for Wales, Equality and Human Rights Commission, said:
“The Equality Act 2010 is a law for everyone.  It gives us simpler, stronger laws that will help Britain become a fairer society, improve public services, and help business perform well.
The Act gives added protection to everyone from carers, breastfeeding women, and bar staff, to faith groups, atheists, and transgender people.
“Working together, we can use the Equality Act as a springboard to creating a society where everyone counts and everyone has the right to be treated fairly and achieve their potential."

Last Updated: 12 Dec 2014