The Equality Act 2010
The Equality Act 2010 (Specific Duties) Regulations 2011 came into force on 10 September 2010. They help public bodies perform the public sector Equality Duty better by requiring them to publish relevant, proportionate information showing compliance with the Equality Duty, and to set equality objectives.
The Act covers nine protected characteristics, which cannot be used as a reason to treat people unfairly. The protected characteristics are:
- Age: Where this is referred to, it refers to people belonging to a particular age (e.g. 32 year olds) or range of ages (e.g. 18-30 year olds).
- Disability: A person has a disability if s/he has a physical or mental impairment which has a substantial and long-term adverse effect on that person's ability to carry out normal day-to-day activities.
- Gender reassignment: The process of transitioning from one gender to another.
- Marriage/Civil partnership and same sex marriage: Marriage is defined as a 'union between a man and a woman'. Same sex couples living together can also have their relationship legally recognised, either by civil partnership or through same sex marriage.
- Pregnancy and maternity/paternity: Pregnancy is the condition of being pregnant or expecting a baby. Maternity refers to the period after the birth, and is linked to maternity leave in the employment context. This refers to both women (maternity) and men (paternity). In the non-work context, protection against maternity discrimination is for 26 weeks after giving birth, and this includes treating a woman unfavourably because she is breastfeeding.
- Race: This refers to the protected characteristic of race. It refers to a group of people defined by their race, colour, and nationality (including citizenship) ethnic or national origins.
- Religion or belief: Religion has the meaning usually given to it but belief includes religious and philosophical beliefs including lack of belief, atheism for example. Generally a belief should affect your life choices or the way you live for it to be included in the definition.
- Sex: A man or a woman.
- Sexual orientation: Whether a person's sexual attraction is towards their own sex, the opposite sex or to both sexes.