Purpose of the Equality Act 2010
Strengthening, harmonising and streamlining 40 years of equalities legislation:
- Strengthening: improving the effectiveness of equality legislation
- Harmonising: providing the same levels of protection from discrimination across all the protected characteristics and all sectors, where appropriate
- Streamlining: simplifying and consolidating approximately 116 pieces of separate equality legislation
The nine key protected characteristics
- Marriage and Civil Partnership
- Pregnancy and Maternity
- Religious or other belief
- Sexual orientation
The protected characteristic of age means a person belonging to a particular age group. This includes people of the same age and people of a particular range of ages. Eg ‘over 50s’ or ‘21 yr olds’.
Protection is provided where someone has a physical or mental impairment and this has a substantial and long term adverse effect on the person’s ability to carry out normal day to day activities.
Protection from discrimination whether or not a person is male or female.
‘Race’ includes colour, nationality and ethnic or national origins. A racial group can also be made up of two or more distinct racial groups.
Religious or other belief
- ‘Religion’ means any religion and includes a lack of religion. It is for the courts to determine what constitutes a religion.
- Belief means any religious or philosophical belief and includes a lack of belief. Examples of philosophical beliefs include Humanism and Atheism. A belief need not include faith or worship of a God or Gods, but must affect how a person lives their life or perceives the world.
Whether a person is attracted to people of their own sex, the opposite sex or both sexes. Assumptions and perceptions of a person’s sexuality are also covered by law.
Gender reassignment is a personal process (rather than a medical process) which involves a person expressing their gender in a way that differs from or is inconsistent with the physical sex they were born with.
This personal process may include undergoing medical procedures or it may simply include choosing to dress in a different way as part of the personal process of change. For example, a person will be protected because of gender reassignment where they:
- Make their intention known to someone -- it does not matter who this is, whether it is someone at work or in their personal life or someone like a doctor;
- Once they have proposed to undergo gender reassignment they are protected, even if they take no further steps;
- They do not have to have reached an irrevocable decision that they will undergo gender reassignment, but as soon as there is a manifestation of this intention they are protected; or,
- Start or continue to dress, behave or live (full-time or part-time) according to the gender they identify with as a person; or
- Undergo treatment related to gender reassignment, such as surgery or hormone therapy; or
- Have received gender recognition under the Gender Recognition Act 2004.
It does not matter which of these applies to a person for them to be protected because of the characteristic of gender reassignment.
This guidance uses the term ‘trans person’ to refer to someone who has the protected characteristic of gender reassignment.
You must not treat a person worse for being absent because they propose to undergo, are undergoing or have undergone gender reassignment than they would be treated if they were ill or injured.
For example, a trans person takes time off to receive treatment as part of their gender reassignment. An education provider cannot discriminate against them because of their absence for this purpose.
Confidentiality of information such as personal records is often extremely important for trans people. In particular, it may be a criminal offence for someone to disclose information about the gender history of a person with a Gender Recognition Certificate, or about their application for a gender recognition certificate, without that person’s consent.
[Source: Equality and Human Rights Commission Guidance - What the Equality Act 2010 means for you in providing services and public functions or running an association and What the Equality Act 2010 means for you as an education provider]
Direct Discrimination occurs where a person treats another less favourably because of a protected characteristic than they treat, or would treat, others.
Discrimination by association
The definition of direct discrimination also covers cases where discrimination occurs because of a person’s association with a particular protected characteristic eg parent, partner or child.
Discrimination by perception
Protection is also provided where someone is wrongly thought to have a particular protected characteristic, e.g. they are mistakenly believed to be gay, and are treated less favourably because of that belief. This intended application of the direct discrimination provision represents one of the most significant expansions of protection in the Equality Act.
Indirect discrimination arises when an unjustifiable provision, criterion or practice is applied to everyone, but it places people with a protected characteristic at a particular disadvantage.
Harassment is defined as:
- unwanted conduct related to a protected characteristic which has the purpose or effect of:
- violating the other person’s dignity, or
- creating an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment for him/her.
- Unwanted conduct of a sexual nature which has that purpose or effect.
The Equality Act 2010 (Specific Duties) Regulations 2011 - came into force from 10th September 2011.
These regulations will allow public authorities, including colleges, to perform the general equality duty better by the transparency of publishing equality information, which is accessible to the public. The general equality duty requires colleges, when exercising their functions, to have due regard to the need to:
(a) eliminate discrimination, harassment, victimisation and any other conduct that is prohibited by or under the Equality Act 2010;
(b) advance equality of opportunity between persons who share a relevant protected characteristic and persons who do not share it;
(c) foster good relations between persons who share a relevant protected characteristic and persons who do not share it.
The regulations required colleges to;
- Publish information to demonstrate compliance with the general equality duty by no later than 31 January 2012 and at least annually thereafter. This includes information relating to employees (for colleges with 150 or more employees) and other individuals who share a relevant protected characteristic who will be affected by their policies and practices.
- Prepare and publish equality objectives by 6 April 2012 and at least every four years thereafter. There is a requirement for one or more objectives, which the authority believes it should achieve, in order to comply with any part of the general equality duty (points a-c above); the objective(s) must be specific and measurable.
The information and objective(s) must be published in a way that is accessible to the public, and can include publishing the information within another published document.
Follow this link to view current Annual Report.
Follow this link for current strategy
Equality and Diversity Policy
Follow this link to view current Policy.
Human Rights Act 1998
This was fully implemented in 2000. The relevant articles for employment are article 8, which guarantees privacy for someone’s home life and correspondence and which underpins the Data Protection Act. Articles 10 and 11 guarantee freedom of expression, association and assembly.
Individuals who consider they have been a victim of a human rights violation should not have to suffer further difficulties.
Follow this link to view Human Rights Act 1998