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The purpose of the Equality Act 2010

Video 29 of 250
4 min 9 sec

A Brief History and Overview of the UK Equality Act 2010

The UK has a rich history of implementing equality legislation. Over the past several decades, the country has striven to advance equal rights for its diverse population, with laws addressing racial, sexual, disability and LGBT+ discrimination. However, the complexity of these laws and their effectiveness were often under scrutiny. As a response, the UK Equality Act 2010 was introduced, providing comprehensive, unified protection against discrimination.

Evolution of Equality Legislation in the UK

From the 1970s, various legislations tackling racial and sex discrimination were introduced, guaranteeing equal treatment and equal pay for all races and sexes. Subsequently, in the 1990s, anti-discrimination laws for disabled individuals were established, and in 2004, legal rights pertaining to marriage were extended to lesbian, gay, and bisexual people. While these laws marked significant progress, there remained skepticism about their effectiveness and scope. As a result, a review of UK equality legislation began in 2005, eventually leading to the introduction of a new, single equality bill by Harriet Harman, the then leader of the House of Commons, in June 2008.

Introduction of the UK Equality Act 2010

The government finally published the Equality Bill on 27th April 2009, which was subsequently enacted as the UK Equality Act 2010. This comprehensive piece of legislation replaced several previous anti-discrimination laws, consolidating them into a single, more understandable law. The Act is designed to protect individuals from unfair treatment and to foster a fairer, more equal society in England, Scotland, and Wales.

Scope of the UK Equality Act 2010

The Equality Act 2010 covers a broad spectrum of characteristics protected from discrimination. These include age, disability, gender reassignment, marriage and civil partnership, pregnancy and maternity, race, religion or belief, sex, and sexual orientation. Notably, the Act also safeguards individuals associated with someone possessing these characteristics, or perceived to have them.

Proactive Measures and Workplace Implications

A key provision of the Act is the requirement for public bodies, such as government departments and local authorities, to proactively promote equality and eradicate discrimination. In the workplace, employers must avoid discrimination against employees or job applicants based on any protected characteristic, ensure non-discriminatory job advertisement, and accommodate the needs of disabled workers through reasonable adjustments.

Protection Against Harassment and Victimization

The Act also provides protection against harassment, defined as unwanted conduct related to a protected characteristic violating an individual's dignity or creating an offensive environment. It also shields against victimization, which occurs when someone is treated unfairly for making a discrimination complaint or supporting someone who has.

Impact of the UK Equality Act 2010

The Equality Act 2010 is a vital legislative instrument in promoting equality and preventing discrimination. It ensures everyone is treated fairly and with respect, irrespective of their background, characteristics, or beliefs. Its introduction has played a significant role in reducing discrimination and fostering a greater understanding and respect for diversity in the UK.