Dec 05

A brief guide to the Equality Act (2010)

In 2010, the UK introduced the Equality Act 2010. The purpose of this was to consolidated and strengthened the country’s anti-discrimination laws, bringing together several earlier statutes into a single, comprehensive piece of legislation. The Equality Act 2010 is a pivotal framework that promotes equal opportunities and combats discrimination on various grounds. In this blog, we’ll delve into the key aspects and implications of this significant legislation related to employment.

The Nine Protected Characteristics

One of the fundamental principles of the Equality Act 2010 is its protection of individuals from discrimination based on nine specific characteristics:

  • Age
  • Disability
  • Gender reassignment
  • Marriage and civil partnership
  • Pregnancy and maternity
  • Race
  • Religion or belief
  • Sex
  • Sexual orientation

The Act recognises these characteristics as areas where discrimination can occur and seeks to prevent such discrimination in various aspects of life, including employment, education, and the provision of goods and services.

Unlawful Discrimination

The Equality Act 2010 makes it unlawful to discriminate against individuals on the basis of the protected characteristics mentioned above. Discrimination can take several forms, including:


The Equality Act 2010 significantly impacts employment law. Employers are prohibited from discriminating against employees or job applicants based on the protected characteristics. This includes areas such as recruitment, pay, promotions, and working conditions. The Act also requires employers to make reasonable adjustments to accommodate disabled employees and provide equal pay for equal work.

The Act does allow for positive action, which means that in some (quite limited) circumstances, employers or service providers can take steps to address underrepresentation or disadvantage among certain groups and encourage that group to participate. For example, a business could place job adverts to target particular groups, to increase the number of applicants from that group which would be a proactive approach to promoting equality and diversity.


We recommend that clients implement an Equal Opportunities Policy which sets out how the company will treat it’s employees and what processes and controls it has in place to ensure that discrimination does not occur either deliberately, or accidentally. This policy generally also applies to other workers and contractors such as consultants, volunteers, job applicants, agency and casual workers.

It’s also vital to have a grievance policy, which gives an avenue for employees to raise concerns which could be related to discrimination and ideally a Harassment and Bullying policy which specifically sets out the company’s expectations and actions taken to prevent harassment.

The Equality Act 2010 is a pivotal piece of legislation that serves as a beacon for equality, diversity, and inclusion in the UK. By recognising and protecting the nine specific characteristics, the Act reinforces the importance of treating all individuals fairly and with respect. Understanding the key provisions and implications of this legislation is essential for individuals, employers, and organisations to create a society where everyone has equal opportunities and can thrive regardless of their background or circumstances.

HROverload can support your business to implement policies, processes and ways of working which support equal opportunities and reduce the risk of discrimination. Drop us a line at or call us on 020 8588 9494.

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