Home > Legal > The Equality Act 2010: What it Can Do for You

The Equality Act 2010: What it Can Do for You

By: Lorna Elliott LLB (hons), Barrister - Updated: 25 Feb 2016 |
 
Equality Act Carer Disability Women

Most of the provisions of the new Equality Act 2010 came into force in October 2010, although some parts of the legislation are currently being phased in. It was designed to bring in a new framework to protect rights of individuals, as well as equality of opportunity for all. In effect, it is intended to provide a simple approach to anti-discrimination in England and Wales so that everyone is entitled to equality and fairness within society.

The main rights under the Equality Act provide increased protection for citizens against discrimination (both direct and indirect); victimisation and harassment; work, associations, transport and education. There are specific provisions for individuals who are undergoing gender reassignment. There are also special provisions for those who are carers for others, to protect them from discrimination. For example, someone who cares for another cannot be turned down for a job because they have this additional responsibility. Those who have a disability cannot be discriminated against in, for example, job applications – as employers are not allowed to ask as many questions about health or disabilities.

What the Equality Act Can Do For You

While there were anti-discrimination laws in place before, the government recognised that these did not go far enough. Women who did the same job as men are often paid less than their male counterparts; people are still refused jobs on the basis of their race; others lose out because of disability; and talented children from less well off families do not do as well as those from more affluent families. Older people must be treated the same as younger people (such as in consumer situations, for example).

How This Could Work in Practice

Local authorities will be required to look at the services they provide to ensure that individuals from less well-off areas are not disadvantaged in terms of the availability of public services. Public bodies also have to ensure that they support the concept of equality amongst individuals, such as through the jobs they provide and the money that is spent on public services.

As well as having to consider people of different races, abilities and sexes fairly, public authorities now have to consider young and old, sexual orientation, religious beliefs (and those without them), pregnant or post-natal women, and those who are in the process of changing (or who have changed) their sex. This could have a significant impact on the way that hospitals provide for young and old patients, for example. It will not affect existing provisions, such as flu injections, free bus passes for older people or travel discount for young people.

Equal Pay

Under provisions yet to come into force, the Equality Act will require companies that have more than 250 people in employment to be required to publish the pay rates of their male and female workers; as well as information about the number of ethnic minority and disabled individuals that work for them.

There is also likely to be increasing emphasis on positive discrimination for employers who do not have enough women or ethnic minorities working for them, with a view to them filling more of the top jobs in society such as in the boardroom, courtrooms, and in parliament. This could mean that, in a job race between a man and a woman, the woman could get the job over the man because of ‘positive action’ on the part of the employer to comply with the Equality Act.

Fathers

While there may not appear to be much by way of good news for separated dads within the new legislation, it is in its very early stages of development and case law is likely to shape the way that the legislation is put into effect. New fathers will be entitled to equal amounts of paternity leave as their female counterparts, and dads who have shared responsibility for their children should not be discriminated against because they are likely to take more time off work to look after their children than other men.

Other Rights

Women who choose to breastfeed in public will no longer be discriminated against on the basis that they are offending others; it is against the law to ask a woman to leave if she breastfeeds in public. Clubs and societies cannot ban classes of people, so a golf club cannot be men-only and a society that does not have disabled access (thereby preventing disabled people from joining) will be required to make their meetings more accessible to disabled people.

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JL - Your Question:
Though I wasn't with the mother of my son all though the pregnancy and wasn't even aware until 2 months before he was born that I could even be the father, a private DNA test proved that I am and I am on the birth cert. I did have contact all though limited from his birth till about June, I was not given the chance to do all that parents can and now since she has a new partner the mother has stopped all contact, even returned a cheque that I sent for support, I have been to mediation and she was invited but refused, so have a letter stating that mediation is not suitable in my case. I am only 21 so don't know where to go next,

Our Response:
I am sorry to hear this. Please see our site: When Your Ex-Partner Denies You Access, link here. If your ex has refused mediation, then you will have to take it through the courts. If you cannot afford legal representation, you can self-litigate, please see link here. I hope this helps.
SeparatedDads - 28-Sep-15 @ 11:11 AM
Though I wasn't with the mother of my son all though the pregnancy and wasn't even aware until 2 months before he was born that I could even be the father, a private DNA test proved that I am and I am on the birth cert. I did have contact all though limited from his birth till about June, I was not given the chance to do all that parents can and now since she has a new partner the mother has stopped all contact, even returned a cheque that I sent for support, I have been to mediation and she was invited but refused, so have a letter stating that mediation is not suitable in my case. I am only 21 so don't know where to go next,
JL - 27-Sep-15 @ 8:16 AM
@Birksey - yes, it is if you have parental responsibility. If you don't want her to then you may be able to apply for a prohibitive steps order through the courts.
Lee - 4-Feb-15 @ 12:39 PM
My x wants to change my boys schools with out my say is this against the law
Birksey - 2-Feb-15 @ 9:49 PM
@wbridgeman, the only thing you can do if your ex is unwilling to compromise is to apply fora contact order. However, be aware that this doesn't mean you will definitely get your children at Christmas.
Q - 10-Sep-14 @ 12:14 PM
Fed-up father Every year my ex-wife stops me spending Christmas day with my children, can she legally keep doing this, or is this classed as Restricting my access to my children, normal divorced family's spend alternative years with parents ive asked for this but she wont agree, the thing that makes it worse is i work overseas and its deliberately done when i come home to visit the children for Birthdays and Christmas and Summer Holidays . I want to apply a some form of court order if its possible .
WBridgman - 10-Sep-14 @ 11:26 AM
I kicked my wife of 5 years out after I found out she was having an affair with a bloke she works with. We have a son together. I was the full time carer for our son for over 3 years while she worked full time, effectively I was mum AND dad to him during that time, and continue to do so.. Son is 5.I currently have custody, but it appears she will be seeking custody at a later date.......I am 99% convinced she is pregnant now to her BF.DO I have a right to know if she is pregnant or not, seeing as she is still legally my wife, despite living with this other guy, and B) is it likely that she will have a better chance of getting custody due to a new baby? Thanks
Frustrated - 7-Aug-14 @ 8:29 PM
Hi there, my wife and I have seperated due to me seeing another women, I have now moved out the family home and staying with family, I am seeing the other women and wish to have a proper relationship with her, while im not here to be judged for my actions as there was problems before this happend. She is now intent on moving the kids over 3 hours away from me and saying that I can see them whenever I want just she cannot be around them. Now I ask can she stop me having my new partner around my kids when I have them to stay??? I will be sharing her house and effectively she is making me choose between my children or new partner..thoughts? Would a court be on my side?
munki - 16-Jan-12 @ 2:14 AM
My husband walked out on me when I was 14 wereks pregnant, leaving me with a pile of debt, I had to move house and he did not enquire about the pregnancy and when he left he said he did not want a baby. He got in touch at the end of pregnancy wanting to know what involvement he could have the baby - at the time I said no contact. He is now taking me to court for 50% residency of my baby and contact - what are his rights and chances? What legal right do his other children have in relation to seeing my baby? I have offered now to let him see the baby on my terms and at a gradual rate but he says this not good enough and he will see me in court - advice please and thoughts please.
14a - 6-Dec-11 @ 1:34 PM
Does my partner still have to pay maintenance for his two kids who have moved with their mother to live in spain? to see these children he would need to pay their flights over here have them supervised on the plane entertain them and feed them whilest paying a huge monthly maintenace??? He has not seen these kids since December 2010
taff - 20-Nov-11 @ 3:50 PM
Only registered organisations can carry out CRB checks, and the individual concerned needs to give their consent. So, no, your wife cannot use this to prevent you from seeing your children.
SeparatedDads - 6-Jul-11 @ 2:27 PM
Can my ex wife use a crb check to prevent me from gaining access to my children or does the crb system not apply to domestic arrangements?
rugbykipper - 5-Jul-11 @ 3:24 PM
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