Equality Act Key Changes


Direct Discrimination based on association and perception

The new definition of direct discrimination extends protection based on association and perception to include:

• Age

• Disability

• Gender reassignment

• Sex

• Pregnancy and maternity

This is already applicable to race, sexual orientation and religion or belief.

This change means that those providing case for someone due to a protected characteristic would be protected because of their association.

Extended protection for disabled people

Protection for disabled people has been extended:

• Indirect discrimination will be extended to disability

• A new protection for discrimination arising from disability will be introduced

• The duty to make reasonable adjustments for disabled people has been extended to when a disabled person experiences a ‘substantial disadvantage’.  The previous duty applied when it was ‘impossible or unreasonably difficult’ for a disabled person to work, study or use a service

Abolition of Default Retirement Age

The default retirement age (that was set at 65) was abolished from 6 April 2011.  It will be no longer possible to subject employees to compulsory retirement on or after 1 October 2011, unless the retirement can be justified in the particular circumstances.  The University is no longer able to reject job applications from external candidates who are over 65; such applicants should be treated in the usual way.  Age-related factors must not be used as a criteria for non-selection.

Breastfeeding now explicitly protected

A woman who is breastfeeding is now explicitly protected from unfavourable treatment in the areas of education and provision of services.  This covers unfavourable treatment within a period of 26 weeks from when she has given birth.  Outside of this 26-week period, a breastfeeding woman may be protected by the sex discrimination provisions. 

New limitations on asking health related questions during staff recruitment and selection

The new provisions made it unlawful for an employer to ask about the health of a job applicant:

• Before offering work to an applicant

• Before including an applicant in a pool of shortlisted candidates from which the employer intends to select a person to offer work to

Removal of secrecy clause in discussing pay

The Equality Act 2010 introduces protection for people from victimisation by their employer if they discuss their pay with colleagues with a view to establishing differences in pay that may exist because of a protected characteristic.  Employers will not be able to enforce any terms of employment or appointment that prevent or restrict discussions relating to pay.