Equality Act - October 2010 Useful information for Employers
The Equality Act
became law on Friday 1st October 2010 replacing most of the
previous discrimination legislation. The new act applies to
the provision of services as well as employment.
objective of the act is promoting equality for all by preventing
discrimination under several protected characteristics Age,
Disability, Gender Reassignment, Marriage and Civil Partnership,
Pregnancy and Maternity, Race, Religion or Belief, Sex and Sexual
below are some of the important factors:
- A person has a disability if she/he has a physical or
mental impairment which has a substantial and long term
adverse effect on that person's ability to carry out normal
day-to-day activities. This includes things like using a
telephone, reading a book or using public transport. Indirect
discrimination also covers disabled people and it is discrimination
to treat a disabled person unfavourably because of something
connected with their disability.
Discrimination - Direct discrimination against a person
because they have an association with someone with a particular
protected characteristic. It already applies to race, religion
or belief, and sexual orientation and is now to be extended
to cover age, disability, gender and gender reassignment.
Direct Discrimination - against someone because they
think they possess a particular protected characteristic.
Indirect Discrimination - Can occur when you have a
rule or policy that applies to everyone, but disadvantages
a particular protected characteristic.
- Unwanted behaviour that has the purpose or effect of violating
a person's dignity or creates a degrading, hostile, humiliating,
intimidating or offensive environment. Employees will be able
to complain of behaviour they find offensive, even if it is
not aimed at them and they need not possess the relevant characteristic
themselves. Harassment from a Third Party already
applies to sexual harassment, but is now extended to apply
to the other protected characteristics. Employees can now
complain of behaviour they find offensive even if it is not
directed at them.
Assessments - In the Equality Act 2010, it limits the
circumstances when employers can ask pre-employment health-related
questions before offering a job.
/ Belief Organisations - An organisation founded on an
ethos based on a religion or belief. Faith schools are one
example of a religion or belief organisation. If the job seeker
does not follow a defined religion or do not have one at all
they are protected as Religion also includes "a lack of religion".
Person - Refers to a person who has the protected characteristic
of gender reassignment. This may be a woman who has transitioned
or is transitioning to be a man, or a man who has transitioned
or is transitioning to be a woman. The law does not require
a person to undergo a medical procedure to be recognised as
a transsexual. They now get new protection and it will be
discrimination to treat transsexual people less favourably
for being absent from work because they propose to undergo,
are undergoing or have undergone gender reassignment than
they would be treated if they were absent because they were
ill or injured.
- Subjecting a person to a detriment because they have done
a protected act or there is a belief that they have done a
protected act i.e. bringing proceedings under the Act; giving
evidence or information in connection with proceedings under
the Act; doing any other thing for the purposes or in connection
with the Act; making an allegation that a person has contravened
New Staff: Review your organisation's recruitment process
and procedures to remove inappropriate pre-employment medical
questions. Review application forms and if applicable, discontinue
issuing a blanket 'pre-employment medical questionnaire'
to all job applicants if you currently do so. Ensure that
line managers and managers responsible for recruitment are
trained on the implications of the Equality
Harassment Situations: Review policies on how employees
might encounter harassment from third parties and how policies
and procedures might be adapted to prevent it occurring.
Equality Duty for Public Sector Employers: Check whether
your organisation is affected by the single equality duty
for public sector employers. From April 2011 all public sector
organisations will be under a single equality duty to demonstrate
that they are achieving equality in their workforce across
all the protected characteristics.
Secrecy Clauses: Remove any pay secrecy clauses from contracts
of employmen new limitations on employers asking pre-employment
health about health and disability before deciding whether
to offer employment.
Procedures: Review how reporting procedures can be improved
so that you can keep track of third party harassment. Also
be aware that employees can complain of harassment even if
the harassment was not aimed at him or her, or the employee
doesn't possess the protected characteristic themselves.
Discrimination: Review procedures and policies to avoid
associative discrimination claims. Line managers and recruitment
personnel must be aware of how to deal with staff under anti-discrimination
laws, and of how a characteristic of an employee's relative
can also be relevant.
Take account of the full reason why an employee is absent
before issuing a warning. For example the member of staff
might be undergoing transsexual treatment.
Act covers England and Wales, and Scotland with the exception of
section 190 (improvements to let dwelling houses) and Part 15 (family
Act does not apply in Northern Ireland, with the exception of section
82 (offshore work), section 105(3) and (4) (expiry of Sex Discrimination
(Election Candidates) Act 2002) and section 199 (abolition of presumption
specific duties imposed by a Minister of the Crown, Scottish Minister
or Welsh Minister to enable better performance in relation to the
Public Sector Equality Duty will apply to England, Scotland and