Sign outside a public building Sign outside a public building

Our powers

In this section you can find out more about the Commission's unique legal powers, our regulatory approach and how we take action.

Guidance and assistance

The Commission is the regulatory body responsible for enforcing the Equality Act 2010.  We are also accredited by the United Nations as  an “A status” national human rights institution. Our duties include reducing inequality, eliminating discrimination and promoting and protecting human rights.

The focus of our regulatory role is to help organisations achieve what they should, not catch them out if they fall short. To help us do this, we have a range of powers. These include providing advice and guidance, publishing information and undertaking research. 

When these methods are ineffective, we also have a range of enforcement powers. These powers are set out in the Equality Act 2006 and play an essential role in helping us make a difference. 

There are a number of different approaches we can take, depending on the particular circumstances we are trying to change. They range from guidance and assistance to investigations and court action.

We do not get involved in every issue or dispute, however. We only use our legal or enforcement powers when it is the best way to achieve change, such as:

  • to clarify the law, so people and organisations have a clearer understanding of their rights and duties
  • to highlight priority issues and force these back to the top of the agenda
  • to challenge policies or practices that cause significant disadvantage, sometimes across a whole industry or sector

To do this, we use the courts and tribunals to secure binding, positive judgments that reinforce, strengthen or expand people's rights.

By using our powers in this way, our legal actions secure widespread and lasting benefits, positively influencing the everyday experiences of millions of individuals.