What is the Equality Act of 2010 – and why does it matter?
Ten years ago, the Labour Government introduced the 2010 Equality Act to consolidate and strengthen laws that protect people from discrimination and disadvantage.
The Equality Act 2010 replaced several previous laws, making it easier for everyone to understand their rights. It also helps to ensure people with what are called protected characteristics are not discriminated against because of who they love, where they come from, how they worship and more.
Here are eight things you should know about the Equality Act 2010 and how it can protect you and the people important to you.
Eight things you should know about the Equality Act 2010
1. It protects all of us from discrimination – wherever you are
The Act legally protects you from being treated differently by your employer, school or college. It also means you can’t be treated differently when you use public services, like the hospital or the doctors, and even at your local shops and restaurants.
2. It protects disabled people
Policies and practices must not put disabled people at a disadvantage because of this legislation. It also means that employers, businesses and companies that provide services, like banks, have to make reasonable adjustments to ensure disabled people are not excluded.
3. The Act protects against discrimination on the grounds of race, colour, ethnic origins, faith, age and nationality
This builds on previous laws relating to racial and age-related discrimination – it really makes a difference to peoples’ lives. For example, it means that a landlord can’t refuse to give a flat to a family because they are from another country or because of the colour of their skin.
4. It promotes better transparency at work
Employers are asked to monitor equality in their workplace more. It also means large organisations are now required to report their gender pay gap each year. Making the figures public and letting people know about them makes it easier to call out injustices and take steps to tackle them.
5. It protects people from discrimination and harassment based on their sexual orientation
The Equality Act builds on previous laws that protected gay, lesbian and bisexual people. And it strengthens protection from discrimination and harassment in and out of work.
6. It officially lists gender reassignment as a protected characteristic
Businesses, healthcare providers or employers can’t single out trans people thanks to the act. Trans people continue to face stigma and discrimination but this Act has helped strengthen their legal rights.
7. The Act made it illegal for businesses to discriminate against women who are breastfeeding
It laid out better protections for new and expectant mums both at work and out of work. It also made it clear that it is against the law for cafes or restaurants to ask you to stop breastfeeding, leave because you are breastfeeding or to go somewhere more private.
8. It requires all public sector organisations to actively consider how what they do, every day, affects all of us – not just some
For example, if a local authority wasn’t making any money on a bus route and wanted to cancel it, they would have to consider who it was used by. So, if it was something that really benefitted older people, then they would have to take into account that before they could cancel it.
The Equality Act is there for all of us. Fairness and equality matter – because when we have a fairer and more equal society, we all thrive.