The Equality Act came into force in October 2010 and replaces all previous equality legislation in England, Scotland and Wales – namely the Race Relations Act 1976, the Disability Discrimination Act 1995, the Sex Discrimination Act, the Equal Pay Act, the Employment Equality (Age) Regulations 2006, The Civil Partnership Act 2004, the Employment Equality Regulations 2003 (religions and belief and sexual orientation).
The Act covers the same characteristics that are protected by existing legislation:
- Gender reassignment
- Race (during 2015 Caste will be added as a definition of Race – date tbc, although The Employment Appeal Tribunal has already confirmed caste is included within the meaning of ‘ethnic’ origins).
- Religion or belief
- Sexual orientation
- Marriage and civil partnership
- Pregnancy and maternity.
However, these groups will now be called ‘Protected Characteristics’ (PC’s).
The new Act also extends protections to some other characteristics and introduces other changes. This Act applies equally to employees, workers and many of those who are self-employed (only Freelancers who fall under Part 5 of the Equality Act 2010 are covered – that is those who are described as ‘contract workers’ and are contracted personally to do the work, i.e you cannot claim discrimination against your Employer if you are contracted for the provision of services and hire someone else, or sub-contract someone else, to do the work – you must do the work yourself personally).