Creating a fairer Britain
01 October 2010
The majority of the Equality Act 2010 comes into force today, bringing together existing equality law into one place so that it is easier to understand and extending protection to some groups so that they are treated more fairly.
The Commission’s role, given to it by Parliament, is to help people understand equality law and to enforce it.
The new law protects everyone in Britain to some extent as people have several of the characteristics it covers, namely age, race, religion and belief, sex (meaning gender) and sexual orientation; and some people also have the protected characteristics of disability, gender reassignment, marriage and civil partnership, pregnancy and maternity.
Under the Act people are not allowed to discriminate, harass or victimise another person because they belong to a group that the Act protects, are thought to belong to one of those groups or are associated with someone who does.
Helen Hughes, interim Chief Executive of the Equality and Human Rights Commission, said:
“It’s more than just an Act. Simplifying equality legislation and extending protection to a wide range of groups that face discrimination will help Britain become a fairer society, improve public services, and help business perform well.
“For example, banning the use of pre-employment questionnaires under the new Equality Act could make it easier for veterans who have been recently disabled in the line of duty to get work; and protecting young mums from discrimination in school or college could mean they finish their education rather than drop out.
“It is also a reminder that treating people fairly protects organisations from costly discrimination claims.”
Detailed guidance to the new Equality Act is being rolled out by the Commission. The Commission is producing statutory guidance (“Codes of Practice”) for legal professionals and can be referred to in legal cases; and other guidance (“non-statutory guidance”) aimed at people who want to know how the law applies in different settings.
Information about the new Equality Act can be found on the Commission’s website or via its national helpline: England 0845 604 6610, Scotland 0845 604 5510 or Wales 0845 604 8810.
For more press information contact the Commission’s media office on 020 3117 0255, out of hours 07767 272 818.
For general enquiries please contact the Commission’s national helpline: England 0845 604 6610, Scotland 0845 604 5510 or Wales 0845 604 8810.
The Equality and Human Rights Commission is a statutory body established under the Equality Act 2006, which took over the responsibilities of Commission for Racial Equality, Disability Rights Commission and Equal Opportunities Commission. It is the independent advocate for equality and human rights in Britain. It aims to reduce inequality, eliminate discrimination, strengthen good relations between people, and promote and protect human rights. The Commission enforces equality legislation on age, disability, gender, race, religion or belief, sexual orientation or transgender status, and encourages compliance with the Human Rights Act. It also gives advice and guidance to businesses, the voluntary and public sectors, and to individuals.