Equality Act 2010

The Equality Act 2010 came into force from October 2010 providing a modern, single legal framework with clear, streamlined law to more effectively tackle disadvantage and discrimination.

Digital systems and networks are a medium for carrying out discriminating behaviour within the work place and appropriate measures must be in place to protect the organisation and staff.

The Equality Act 2010 brings together a number of existing laws into one place so that it is easier to use. It sets out the personal characteristics that are protected by the law and the behaviour that is unlawful. Simplifying legislation and harmonising protection for all of the characteristics covered will help Britain become a fairer society, improve public services, and help business perform well.

The rights of the individual also apply to the work place. Organisations must ensure that their use of digital systems and networks protects these rights.

The Equality Act 2010

  • makes provision to require Ministers of the Crown and others when making strategic decisions about the exercise of their functions to have regard to the desirability of reducing socio-economic inequalities;
  • reforms and harmonises equality law and restates the greater part of the enactments relating to discrimination and harassment related to certain personal characteristics;
  • enables certain employers to be required to publish information about the differences in pay between male and female employees;
  • prohibits victimisation in certain circumstances; requires the exercise of certain functions to be with regard to the need to eliminate discrimination & other prohibited conduct;
  • enables duties to be imposed in relation to the exercise of public procurement functions;
  • increases equality of opportunity;
  • amends law relating to rights & responsibilities in family relationships.

The Equality Act 2010 has two main purposes – to harmonise discrimination law & strengthen the law to support progress on equality.

Equality Act 2010 amends 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; Equality Act 2006, Part 2; The Equality Act (Sexual Orientation) Regulations 2007.

Employers summary

The Equality Act 2010 became law in October 2010. As an employer, your obligations remain largely the same. The Act harmonises and replaces previous legislation (such as the Race Relations Act 1976 and the Disability Discrimination Act 1995) and ensures consistency in what you need to do to make your workplace a fair environment and to comply with the law.

The Equality Act 2010 covers the same groups that were protected by existing equality legislation – age, disability, gender reassignment, race, religion or belief, sex, sexual orientation, marriage and civil partnership and pregnancy and maternity. These are now called ‘protected characteristics’.

The Equality Act 2010 extends some protections to characteristics that were not previously covered, and also strengthens particular aspects of equality law. As a result, you may need to review and change some of your policies and practices.

Code of Practice

In line with the statutory powers of the Equality and Human Rights Commission, a Codes of Practice on Employment, Services and Equal Pay has been produced. The main purpose of the Codes of Practice is to provide detailed explanations of the provisions in the Act and to apply legal concepts in the Act to everyday situations. This will assist courts and tribunals when interpreting the law and help lawyers, advisers, trades union representatives, human resources departments and others who need to apply the law. As with the Act, the Codes of Practice apply to England, Scotland and Wales.

The Codes of Practice set out clearly and precisely what the legislation means. They draw on precedent and case law and explain the implications of every clause in technical terms. These statutory codes are the authoritative source of advice for anyone who wants a rigorous analysis of the legislation's detail. For lawyers, advocates and human resources experts in particular, they will be invaluable.


Equality Act 2010