Equality Act 2010

The Equality Act 2010 is the law which bans unfair treatment and helps achieve equal opportunities in the workplace and in wider society.

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What’s included in the Equality Act?

The act replaced previous anti-discrimination laws with a single act to make the law simpler and to remove inconsistencies. This makes the law easier for people to understand and comply with. The act also strengthened protection in some situations.

The act covers nine protected characteristics, which cannot be used as a reason to treat people unfairly. Every person has one or more of the protected characteristics, so the act protects everyone against unfair treatment. The protected characteristics are:

  • age
  • disability
  • gender reassignment
  • marriage and civil partnership
  • pregnancy and maternity
  • race
  • religion or belief
  • sex
  • sexual orientation

The Equality Act sets out the different ways in which it is unlawful to treat someone, such as direct and indirect discrimination, harassment, victimisation and failing to make a reasonable adjustment for a disabled person.

The act prohibits unfair treatment in the workplace, when providing goods, facilities and services, when exercising public functions, in the disposal and management of premises, in education and by associations (such as private clubs).

More about the Equality Act

When did the Equality Act come into effect?

The provisions of the act are being brought into force at different times (known as commencement dates). This is to ensure people and organisations affected by the new laws have plenty of time to prepare.

Most of the provisions came into force in October 2010. Further provisions came into force in April 2011.  

We are considering if and when the remaining provisions will be brought into force, to ensure the act is implemented in an effective and proportionate way. Find out more about commencement dates.  

Legislation repealed or revoked by the Equality Act

A list of all legislation that was repealed or revoked on 1 October 2010 is available in Schedule 27 to the act.

Equality Act Statutory Instruments

Statutory Instruments made under the act are available. Explanatory Memoranda for the Statutory Instruments are accessible using one of the tabs at the top of each Statutory Instrument listing.

Guidance on the Equality Act

We have produced a series of guides entitled: Equality Act: What do I need to know? outlining the key changes in the law made by the act.

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