Equality act – England, Wales and Scotland

Equality act – England, Wales and Scotland

Where does the Equality Act apply?

The Equality Act 2010 applies to England, Wales and Scotland. It came into force on 1st October 2010. Most of the Act does not apply to Northern Ireland. Northern Ireland uses Section 75 of The Northern Ireland Act.

 

Why was the Equality Act introduced?

The Equality Act for England, Scotland and Wales made equality law more simple, straightforward and stronger. It introduced gender reassignment and sexual orientation protections at the same level as more established protections like race, gender and disability.

 

The Act protects people against discrimination, harassment or victimisation in employment, and as users of private and public services. There are nine protected areas : age, disability, gender reassignment, marriage and civil partnership, pregnancy and maternity, race, religion or belief, sex, and sexual orientation.

 

What Acts did it replace?

The main pieces of legislation that have merged are:

  • the Equal Pay Act 1970
  • the Sex Discrimination Act 1975
  • the Race Relations Act 1976
  • the Disability Discrimination Act 1995
  • the Employment Equality (Religion or Belief) Regulations 2003
  • the Employment Equality (Sexual Orientation) Regulations 2003
  • the Employment Equality (Age) Regulations 2006
  • the Equality Act 2006, Part 2
  • the Equality Act (Sexual Orientation) Regulations 2007

 

Does it include a duty to promote sexual orientation and transgender equality?

It places a duty on public bodies similar to the Section 75 duty in Northern Ireland. Public bodies must work to eliminate discrimination, increase  equal opportunities and support good relations between people. 

 

How are the provisions of the Act enforced?

When something described in the Act is not done well then the service user or employee can get help either in the Civil Courts or at an Employment Tribunal. A wide range of help is available in the court or the tribunal, including the power to award compensation for injured feelings and to make recommendations to reduce discrimination in the workplace.

 

What is the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC)?

The EHRC is Great Britain’s national equality body. It protects people’s rights to fairness, dignity and respect. It provides guidance to employers and public organisations.

It was established by the Equality Act 2006 and is independent of government. Its role is to challenge discrimination, promote equality of opportunity and protect human rights. 

The Commission enforces equality legislation. It checks that equality laws are working. It will itself take legal action if there is a serious problem.  

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