What is the Equality Act?
A new Equality Act came into force on 1 October 2010. The Equality Act brings together over 116 separate pieces of legislation into one single Act. Combined, they make up a new Act that provides a legal framework to protect the rights of individuals and advance equality of opportunity for all.
The Act simplifies, strengthens and harmonises the current legislation to provide Britain with a new discrimination law which protects individuals from unfair treatment and promotes a fair and more equal society.
The nine main pieces of legislation that have merged are:
- the Equal Pay Act 1970
- the Sex Discrimination Act 1975
- the Race Relations Act 1976
- the Disability Discrimination Act 1995
- the Employment Equality (Religion or Belief) Regulations 2003
- the Employment Equality (Sexual Orientation) Regulations 2003
- the Employment Equality (Age) Regulations 2006
- the Equality Act 2006, Part 2
- the Equality Act (Sexual Orientation) Regulations 2007
There are further elements in the Act that did not come into force in October 2010, but may do in the future. We await updates from the Government on these developments. Examples are:
- Duty to make reasonable adjustments to common parts of leasehold and commonhold premises and common parts in Scotland
- Provisions relating to auxiliary aids in schools
- Diversity reporting by political parties
- Provisions about taxi accessibility
- Prohibition on age discrimination in services and public functions
- Civil partnerships on religious premises
Elements of the Act that will not be coming into force:
- Dual discrimination: the government has decided not to bring this into force as a way of reducing the cost of regulation to business.
- Socio-economic inequalities under the Public Sector Equality Duty
- Gender pay gap information (s78). The Government has said that it will not implement the gender pay reporting measures in section 78 of the Act while it is working with business on how to best support increased transparency on a voluntary basis. The Government will annually review this approach, in order to assess whether this approach is successful and take a view over time whether alternatives are required, including using a mandatory approach through section 78 of the Equality Act.
Equality Act Guidance
We have published guidance to help employers, workers, service providers, service users and education providers understand the Equality Act.
Last Updated: 20 Aug 2015