This Act, which came into force on October 1st 2010, is designed to give legal protection from discrimination for people both in the workplace and in society in general. It describes the various ways in which it is against the law to treat someone.

This one single Act replaces previous anti-discrimination laws, by amalgamating 116 separate pieces of legislation, thereby facilitating the understanding of the various areas relating to equality.

It sets out details of the legal protection offered when experiencing discrimination; you can also find out what action to take if you feel you have been unfairly treated due to discrimination. The areas covered by the Act are separated into 9 specific headings:

The 9 protected characteristics covered by the Equality Act 2010

1. Age
2. Disability
3. Gender reassignment
4. Marriage and civil partnership
5. Pregnancy and maternity
6. Race
7. Religion or belief
8. Sex
9. Sexual orientation

The aim of the Act is to provide a legal framework which protects the rights of individuals, whilst at the same time promoting a fair, and more equal, society.

Aside from the wider community, the main groups of people who need to be aware of the Act and the implications of anti-discrimination laws are:

Employers

If you are an employer you will need to comply with the law by implementing good practice in all aspects associated with employing staff. These will include: recruitment, pay, working hours, managing staff and developing company policies.

Employees

As an employee, knowledge of the Act will help you understand your rights to be treated equally in employment. This will include: applying for jobs, promotion, flexible working, reasonable adjustments, equal pay, and retirement.

Service providers

If you own a business offering a service to people, in order to comply with the Equality Act 2010 you will need to demonstrate good practice when providing your services. This applies to all types of business, associations or organisations.

Service users

As a customer or client of a business or organisation, under the Act you have a right to be treated equally. This means being served or treated without discrimination when purchasing goods or accessing a service. The Act safeguards you against harassment and rights to accessibility of goods or a service.

Education providers

As a provider of education, whether in further or higher education, college or school, you will need to comply with the Act. This includes promoting equality amongst students without discrimination, which improves attainment levels and progression for all pupils.

In England, equality and diversity are specific elements which are an integral part of Ofsted inspections.

Students

As a student, you have equality rights in further or higher education, as set out in the Act. The institutions providing education have a legal obligation not to discriminate against you, harass or victimise you.

NB> the Act does not apply to Northern Ireland.

For more information about The Equality Act 2010 please visit: www.gov.uk/guidance/equality-act-2010-guidance

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