The Equality Act 2010
A new Equality Act came into force on 1 October 2010 and brought together over 116 separate pieces of legislation into one single Act. The Act extends to cover the rights of staff and students (including prospective staff and students) and protects against discrimination because of nine protected characteristics.
A public sector equality duty came into force on 6 April 2011. In the exercise of its functions, the duty requires the University to have due regard to the need to:
- eliminate unlawful discrimination, harassment and victimisation and other conduct prohibited by the Act.
- advance equality of opportunity between people who share a protected characteristic and those who do not.
- foster good relations between people who share a protected characteristic and those who do not.
The University must publish equality monitoring reports to demonstrate compliance with this duty as well as our current equality objectives.
Read the Equality Act 2010 in full on Gov.uk.
The Act prohibits direct and indirect discrimination, harassment and victimisation on the grounds of age and applies to persons of all ages, both young and old. It is also unlawful to discriminate by perception (when you assume someone is a particular age) and by association (when you are connected to someone of a particular age).
The Act defines a disability as a physical or mental impairment that has a substantial and long-term adverse effect on a person's ability to carry out normal day-to-day activities. There are six main types of disability discrimination: direct discrimination; indirect discrimination; failure to make reasonable adjustments; discrimination arising from disability; harassment; victimisation.
The Act defines gender reassignment as where a person has proposed, started or completed a process to change their sex. A trans person has the protected characteristic of gender reassignment; a person is no longer required to be under medical supervision to be protected. The Act covers direct and indirect discrimination and harassment because of gender reassignment – whether it is perceived, actual or associated.
Marriage and Civil Partnership
It is unlawful to discriminate against people who are married or in a civil partnership. As defined by the law, civil partnership means someone who is legally married or in a civil partnership. Marriage is between a man and a woman, or between same sex couples. Civil partnership is between partners of the same sex.
Pregnancy and Maternity
It is unlawful to discriminate against an employee because of their pregnancy, or because they have given birth recently, are breastfeeding or on maternity leave. Discrimination is when a woman is treated unfavourably because of her pregnancy, pregnancy-related illness or she exercises the right to statutory maternity leave.
A person has the protected characteristic of race if they fall within a particular racial group; all racial groups are protected from direct and indirect discrimination and harassment – whether it is perceived, actual or associated. A racial group can be made up of two or more different racial groups (for example, black Britons). Race includes colour, nationality (including citizenship) and ethnic or national origins.
Religion or Belief
The Act covers any religion and any religious or philosophical belief and a lack of any religion or belief (for example, Atheism). It applies to direct and indirect discrimination and harassment – whether it is perceived, actual or associated. A religion need not be mainstream or well known to gain protection as a religion: however, it must have a clear structure and belief system.
Sex (or gender) is the protected characteristic that refers to men and women. Under the Equality Act, men and women are protected from direct and indirect discrimination and harassment – whether it is perceived, actual or associated.
The Act protects bisexual, gay, heterosexual and lesbian people from direct and indirect discrimination and harassment – whether it is perceived, actual or associated.