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What is the Equality Act?

An introduction to the Equality Act 2010

A new Equality Act came into force on 1 October 2010.

It brings together over 116 separate pieces of legislation into one single Act.

The Act provides a legal framework to protect the rights of individuals and advance equality of opportunity for all.

It provides Britain with a discrimination law which protects individuals from unfair treatment and promotes a fair and more equal society.

The nine main pieces of legislation that have merged are:

  • the Equal Pay Act 1970
  • the Sex Discrimination Act 1975
  • the Race Relations Act 1976
  • the Disability Discrimination Act 1995
  • the Employment Equality (Religion or Belief) Regulations 2003
  • the Employment Equality (Sexual Orientation) Regulations 2003
  • the Employment Equality (Age) Regulations 2006
  • the Equality Act 2006, Part 2
  • the Equality Act (Sexual Orientation) Regulations 2007

View the full Equality Act 2010

As Britain's national equality body, our work is driven by a simple belief: if everyone gets a fair chance in life, we all thrive.

Find out what we're doing to protect and promote equality in Britain. 

Developments in the Equality Act

There are further elements in the Act that did not come into force in October 2010, but may do in the future.

We await updates from the government on these developments.

Examples are:

  • duty to make reasonable adjustments to common parts of leasehold and commonhold premises and common parts in Scotland
  • provisions relating to auxiliary aids in schools
  • diversity reporting by political parties
  • provisions about taxi accessibility
  • prohibition on age discrimination in services and public functions
  • civil partnerships on religious premises

Elements of the Act that will not be coming into force are:

  • dual discrimination: the government has decided not to bring this into force as a way of reducing the cost of regulation to business 
  • socio-economic inequalities under the Public Sector Equality Duty 

Equality Act guidance

We have published guidance to help employers, workers, service providers, service users and education providers understand the Equality Act.

You can find all of our this in our Equality Act guidance section.

Last updated: 28 Apr 2022