Commencement dates

The provisions of the Equality Act are being brought into force at different times. This is to ensure people and organisations affected by the new laws have plenty of time to prepare.

Equality Act provisions which came into force on 1 October 2010

  • The basic framework of protection against direct and indirect discrimination, harassment and victimisation in services and public functions; premises; work; education; associations, and transport;
  • Changing the definition of gender reassignment, by removing the requirement for medical supervision;
  • Providing protection for people discriminated against because they are perceived to have, or are associated with someone who has, a protected characteristic;
  • Clearer protection for breastfeeding mothers;
  • Applying a uniform definition of indirect discrimination to all protected characteristics;
  • Extending protection against indirect discrimination to disability;
  • Introducing the concept of “discrimination arising from disability”, to replace protection under previous legislation lost as a result of a legal judgment;
  • Applying the detriment model to victimisation protection (aligning with the approach in employment law);
  • Harmonising the thresholds for the duty to make reasonable adjustments for disabled people;
  • Extending protection against harassment of employees by third parties to all protected characteristics;
  • Making it more difficult for disabled people to be unfairly screened out when applying for jobs, by restricting the circumstances in which employers can ask job applicants questions about disability or health;
  • Allowing claims for direct gender pay discrimination where there is no actual comparator;
  • Making pay secrecy clauses unenforceable;
  • Extending protection in private clubs to sex, religion or belief, pregnancy and maternity, and gender reassignment;
  • Introducing new powers for employment tribunals to make recommendations which benefit the wider workforce;
  • Harmonising provisions allowing voluntary positive action.

Equality Act provisions which came into force in April 2011

  • Positive action: recruitment and promotion;
  • Public sector Equality Duty.

Ministers are considering how to implement the remaining provisions in the best way for business and for others with rights and responsibilities under the act. Their decisions will be announced in due course.

Equality Act Provisions that the government has decided not to take forward

  • Public sector duty regarding socio-economic inequalities;
  • Gender pay gap information; (more information)
  • Combined discrimination: dual characteristics.
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