The largest piece of discrimination legislation which governs both the workplace and beyond came into force on 1 October 2010. The Equality Act 2010 harmonises discrimination legislation into a single set of rules and widens the scope of anti-discrimination law.
The key changes affecting the workplace are:
- Protection from direct and indirect discrimination because of a protected characteristic
- Extension of third party harassment to include all protected characteristics
- Introduction of combined discrimination (from April 2011)
- Prohibition of discrimination based on association or perception
- Introduction of positive action (from April 2011)
- Introduction of occupational requirements as a defence
- Ban on secrecy pay clauses
- Restrictions on health questionnaires
- Gender pay gap audits for employers
Employers should review their equality policies and update them to reflect the changes in the Act. Service providers should also review their policy. The recent successful discrimination claim by a gay couple who were refused a double room at a B&B owned by a Christian couple demonstrates the extent to which the Act also affects service providers.
To find out more about how the Act will impact you please click here.