The Equality Act 2010 Explained, Simplified and Condensed

First of all, how does the government define ‘equality’?

They say it means everyone having the same chances to do what they can. Equality law tries to help people who are inherently disadvantaged by an unfair system.

The government argues that equality in the workplace makes for a happier, more prosperous and fairer society.

Efforts have been made since the 1960’s to help people of different ethnic groups to assimilate into British culture. Since the 1970’s laws came into existence that said men and women ought to be paid the same amount for doing the same job, although this has been very difficult to fully enforce. In the 1990’s disabled people were given protection by laws and in 2004 LGBT people were recognised as having the right to be partners.

The Equality Act of 2010 was an attempt by the government to bring together these laws into a more coherent and strengthened legal package.  Despite the previous laws, it was found that not enough had been done to actually implement them. To this day women are still not paid as much as men in Britain.

The injustice of gifted children from poor families being unable to unlock their potential due to social prejudice also led to legal reform, as well as the underemployment of disabled people and the discrimination of others based on their sexuality.

The Equality Act ties together 9 main laws and around 100 lesser laws. It is imperative that employers’ adhere to these laws in order to avoid prosecution and in order to advance a progressive social agenda. The Act extends to those living in England, Wales and Scotland.

How Does the Act Make Previous Laws Stronger?

- Public bodies must consider minorities within their budgets/expenditure
- The Act ensures older people are not discriminated against.
- The Act has new ideas about how to compare men’s and women’s pay in order to make it more equal.
- The Act allows ‘Positive Action’. This means employers’ can consider equality as part of the hiring process.
- Diversity targets ought to be implemented in workplaces. This means men and women, young and old, all ethnic groups and -     religions as well as those from all gender and sexual orientations.
- Employment tribunals can ascertain when people are treated unfairly
- The Act helps those who are looking after people from being treated unfairly (such as CARERS)
- Women may breastfeed in public
- Clubs must have an inclusive policy

There are two new duties for public bodies

1. The Socio-economic duty- This makes public bodies responsible for trying to allow access to services for poorer families and individuals. This can include free buses to hospitals from poorer parts of a city, for example.

2. Equality duty- Everyone, regardless of background must be treated with equal respect.

How Public Body Finances can Improve Equality

Public bodies have an annual budget of £220bn. That gives them a lot of purchasing power to tell companies that they buy from to implement targets and regulations regarding equality and diversity. The government is heavily influential over the public bodies’ policies.

Age Discrimination

- The existing law said that people cannot be prevented from doing a job because of their age.
- The new law stops any form of age discrimination to ensure that older people get the same type of service in shops as younger people, that they receive the same health care and services and that they pay the same as everyone else as some companies had charged older people more for whatever reason.
- Things that are beneficial for the elderly such as flu jobs and free bus passes are to be kept.

Gender Pay Equality

Despite trying to rectify this over 40 years ago, there is still work to be done.

Under the act:

- Companies with over 250 workers may have to fully publish differences in pay between men and women.
- The new act allows the government to force public bodies to publish information about equal pay and key demographics related to disabled and ethnic minority people within the organisation.
- People are free to discuss their earnings as a result of the Act.

Positive Action to Increase Diversity

- MP’s are underrepresented by ethnic groups. Based on the population, there ought to be 60 ministers, however, there are only 15.
- There are only 3 judges who are non white.
- Less than 1 in 6 students at elite universities such as Oxford and Cambridge are women.
- Only about 10% of high level company positions are occupied by women.

Steps for positive action include allowing companies to:

Advertise specifically to specific racial groups or disabled people to fall into line with targets.

Selective training can be given to give ethnic minorities, women or disabled people the skills they need to progress to higher levels in a company.

In parliament and on local councils, it is only possible to have women in certain areas.  The Equality Act also makes it easier for LGBT and other underrepresented groups to gain positions of influence.


Under the Equality Act, carers of disabled or older people get protection.

For example, if a woman has a disabled child and applies for a job, the company cannot turn the woman down on the basis that she might have to take time off to look after her child.

Disabled Students at School

Educational  establishments are under obligation to provide necessary equipment or help to those with a disability within reason (financial constraints could apply)

Reasonable Adjustments

Adjustments should be made to ensure that those with disabilities are not disadvantaged wherever possible. This includes ramps to access buildings, large print, Braille for the blind and the admission of guide dogs to buildings and so on. Those with mental disabilities ought to have things taken care of for them with regards to paperwork that isn’t understood, etc.

People cannot be treated badly due to their disability. If someone asks someone to leave a premises on the basis of their disability that is against the new law.

Most of the time, it is now illegal to ask prospective employees whether they have a disability- with the exception of necessary adaptations to help the person if that is the case.

Dual Discrimination

Dual discrimination is when someone is treated worse than other people because of a combination of two things.

• If they are a woman or a man.

• If they are transsexual.

• If they have a disability.

• If they are straight, lesbian, gay or bisexual.

 • Their age.

• Their race.

 • Their religion or belief.

The Act makes dual discrimination against the law

An example of dual discrimination is that there is an Asian man and an Asian woman working for a company. The woman is treated well, but the man is ridiculed due to a combination of his race and gender.

The Equality Act of 2010 is a concerted government effort to bring equality to all different people in modern Britain.


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