Race Relations Act 1976

Reference: UK/1976/C/74

Race relations legislation protects discrimination on racial grounds and relations between people of different racial groups.

The Race Relations Act 1976 provides the framework legislation upon which further legal instruments have been based and which companies must comply with. Those using IT systems and networks must not send communications or act in a way that would break the law on racial discrimination. Employers need to ensure that appropriate policies and procedures are enforced

General provisions

The Race Relations Act 1976 makes fresh provision with respect to discrimination on racial grounds and relations between people of different racial groups; and makes in the Sex Discrimination Act 1975 amendments for bringing provisions in that Act relating to its administration and enforcement into conformity with the corresponding provisions in this Act.

You have the right not to be discriminated against on racial grounds. The Race Relations Act 1976 makes it unlawful to treat a person less favourably than others on racial grounds. These cover grounds of race, colour, nationality (including citizenship), and national or ethnic origin. In practice, most racial discrimination in Britain is against people from ethnic minorities, but people of every background, race, colour and nationality are protected by the law.

The Race Relations Act 1976 provides protection from race discrimination in the fields of employment, education, training, housing, and the provision of goods, facilities and services.

The Race Relations (Amendment) Act 2000 amended the 1976 Act. It fulfilled recommendation 11 of the Stephen Lawrence Inquiry report and went further, prohibiting race discrimination in all public functions, with only a few limited exceptions. Public bodies listed in Schedule 1A to the amended 1976 Act are also subject to a statutory general duty to promote race equality.

The Race Relations Act 1976 (Amendment) Regulations 2003 implement the EC Article 13 Race Directive. The Regulations enhance the Race Relations Act by, for example, amending the definition of indirect discrimination and changing the way in which the burden of proof applies, as well as removing a number of exceptions from the legislation.

Further information