New Equality Act – what do you need to do as an employer?


A New Equality Act was approved and published on October 1, 2010. The Equality Act put together the 116 legislation into one single act. This provides a legal framework that will protect the rights of an individual and provide equal opportunity for all.

The main provisions of the act are:

  • Protection against direct discrimination, indirect discrimination, harassment and victimisation
  • Clarification of protected characteristics – these are the grounds on which discrimination can occur. This now includes: Age, Disability, Gender reassignment, Marriage & civil partnerships, Pregnancy & maternity, Race, Religion or belief, Sex and Sexual orientation.
  • Changing the definition of gender reassignment to include an individual who has started, proposes to start, or has completed a process to change his or her gender. The individual does not need to be under medical supervision to be protected.
  • Associative & perceptive discrimination – Associative discrimination means discriminating against individuals who associate with an individual with a protected characteristic. E.G. an employee who cares for a disabled relative. Perceptive discrimination means discriminating again individuals who it is thought or perceived to have a protected characteristic.
  • New concept of ‘discrimination’
  • arising from disability
  • Ban on pre-employment health questionnaires
  • Extended protection from third party harassment, to all protected characteristics
  • Making pay secrecy clauses unenforceable


What do you need to do as an employer?

  • Review your equal opportunities policy.
  • Review your application form
  • Ensure that your managers and employees are aware of the changes.
  • Reduce risk of discrimination in recruitment e.g., have clear job descriptions; ensure that interview questions are related to job/skills.
  • Do not issue any further pre-employment health questionnaires.
  • Take action if an employee alerts you to 3rd party harassment.
  • Ensure that any secrecy clauses are removed from contracts of employment.