The Equality Act 2010 brought together anti-discrimination law relating to areas such as race, gender, disability, religious belief, sexual orientation and age as well as the Equal Pay Act 1970.
In total, over 100 separate discrimination measures were brought together under the umbrella of the Act.
The Equality Act 2010 prohibits, for all protected characteristics;
- Direct discrimination based on the perception that someone has a protected characteristic (e.g. discrimination based on a belief that someone is homosexual, whether or not they actually are)
- Direct discrimination based on a person’s association with someone who has a protected characteristic (e.g. discrimination based on someone’s relative being homosexual).
It also extended previous protections, for instance, from third party harassment and it introduced a number of brand new concepts:
- Positive action in recruitment and promotion: in certain circumstances in a recruitment and promotion process, an employer can favour a person from an under-represented group if that person is as qualified for the recruitment or promotion as someone who is not from that group, it is possible that this concept and the one above will not be introduced by the government;
- Restrictions on pay secrecy clauses: a contractual term which restricts a person from disclosing their pay is unenforceable in certain circumstances;
- Discrimination arising from a disability: a disabled person is protected from unfavourable treatment because of something arising in consequence of their disability (e.g. extended sickness absence), unless the treatment can be justified;
- Restrictions on pre-employment health questions: employers are restricted in certain circumstances from asking questions about health during the recruitment process.
The Equality Act 2010 applies to all employers regardless of their size.
If you are an employee how can you use it?
An employee who considers they have been discriminated against can bring a complaint of discrimination in the employment tribunal.
It’s important to note, however, that the time limit for bringing a case is normally three months from the date the alleged conduct took place.
However, a tribunal can extend that time if it considers it is just and equitable to do so.