What it is:
The Equality Act came into force on 1 October 2010. This new law brings together existing discrimination legislation on disability, age, gender reassignment, sex, sexual orientation, race, religion, belief, marriage, civil partnerships and pregnancy and maternity. UKDPC
As part of the new Equality Act, there is a new Single Public Sector Equality Duty that is now going to adopt a single approach to discrimination legislation and at the same time, strengthen the current protection of disabled people in law.
The main aim of the new Equality Act is to bring together many separate pieces of legislation, including the Disability Discrimination Act 1995, the Equal Pay Act 1970 and the Equality Act of 2006 in order to better protect the rights of individuals and to promote equality of opportunity.
How it affects DPOs and disabled people:
The Equality Act provides clearer legislation and greater enforcement of the right to equality for all disabled people. Specifically, the new areas of protection include:
- Extending legal protection from direct and indirect discrimination as a result of an actual or perceived disability, as well as discrimination by association. For example, if you are discriminated against because a family or friend has an actual or perceived disability.
- Introducing a single Equality Duty, which will require public bodies to consider the diverse needs and requirements of their workforce, and the communities they serve, when developing employment policies and when planning services.
- Increasing transparency in the workplace.
- The creation of a single threshold for making reasonable adjustments.
- Extending ‘positive action’ steps to encourage employers to make their organisations more representative.
- Giving Employment Tribunals the power to make wider recommendations to stop future employment-related discrimination.
- Protection from disability-related harassment in respect of access to goods and services and in larger private clubs.
What we think about it:
In line with our concerns in the run-up to the Equality Act coming into force, we welcome the new legal entitlements and protections for disabled people in society and the workplace.
There is, however, still a long way to go to meet the Government target of full equality for disabled people by 2025. Whilst we also welcome the Equality Act 2010 in making it easier for disabled people to enforce their rights and get justice, we will continue to:
- Press for the adoption of the definition of disability as contained in the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD).
- Press the Equalities and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) to make sure disabled people are given information and support to legally challenge discrimination.
- Press the EHRC to publish information on cases of successful legal challenges that are taken in relation to disability, ensuring that other strands of discrimination if present are reported.
Only through these measures and positive steps will be ensure that Government and public bodies are fully committed rooting out disablism and to building real inclusion in our society.
For the future:
There are parts of the Equality Act that have not yet come into force, including:
- The single public sector equality duty which imposes a requirement for schools and local authorities, for example, to take positive steps to provide for the needs of disabled people.
- The socio-economic duty which will impose an obligation on public bodies, local authorities and government to consider the impact of decisions on the gap for example, between the rich and the poor.
- The provisions on protecting people from unfair age discrimination.
If you would like to read more about the Equality Act 2010, then please click on the documents and links provided below.