Introduction to the equality act- Part 1 – protected characteristics

What is the Equality Act 2010?

The Equality Act 2010 was introduced to deter specific discrimination in all aspects of society.

It is intended to safeguard a welcoming and safe workplace/ educational setting/ space for every person regardless of their gender, sexuality, race, religious beliefs, age, disability etc. It provides a legal framework to protect the rights of individuals, whilst also advancing equality and opportunity for all.

What are protected characteristics?

The Act sets out a list of ‘protected characteristics’. These are aspects of a person’s identity that, if used to treat you less favourably, would be unlawful, such as:-

  • Age
  • Disability
  • Gender reassignment
  • Marriage and civil partnership
  • Pregnancy and maternity
  • Race
  • Religion or belief
  • Sex
  • Sexual orientation

Under the Equality Act you are protected from discrimination when you:

  • are in the workplace
  • use public services (for example in healthcare or education)
  • when you use businesses and other organisations that provide services and goods (like shops, restaurants, and cinemas)
  • use transport
  • join a club or association (for example, your local tennis club)
  • have contact with public bodies like your local council or government departments

Who has responsibilities?

The Act will apply to:

  • all organisations or bodies that provide any type of service to the public or to a section of the public.
  • Anyone who sells goods.
  • Anyone who provides facilities.
  • Applies to all your services, whether a fee is required for them or not.

Any upcoming changes to the Act to be aware of?

The Worker Protection Bill has gone through the first and second reading and committee stages without amendment. It is listed for the final remaining stages on the 3rd of February 2023. If approved, the Bill would create new responsibilities under the Equality Act for employers to protect their employees from third-party harassment whilst in the course of their employment.

If you feel your rights under the Equality Act 2010 have been infringed, contact our lawyers. They are always happy to discuss your concerns. Feel free to call them on 0207 632 4300.


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