The Equality Act 2010
The Equality Act is a piece of legislation that came into effect on October 1st 2010. It replaced previous legislation such as the Race Relations Act 1976 and the Disability Discrimination Act 1995. The Equality Act brings 116 individual bits of legislation together into one act. Combined they make up an act that provides a legal framework to protect the rights of individuals and promotes equality for all.
Since the Equality Act 2010, disabled people have rights protecting them from discrimination in most areas including:
- Access to good, services and facilities
This article will deal primarily with employment, and the rights disabled people have in the workplace.
Under the Equality Act 2010, it is against the law for employers to discriminate against anyone because of a disability. This includes such areas as:
- Application forms
- Interview arrangements
- Aptitude or proficiency tests
- Job offers
- Terms of employment, including pay
- Promotion, transfer and training opportunities
- Dismissal or redundancy
- Discipline or grievances
Reasonable Adjustments In The Workplace
As a result of the Equality Act 2010, an employer has to make ‘reasonable adjustments’ to avoid a disabled person being put at a disadvantage compared to non-disabled people in the workplace. For example, adjusting working hours or providing a special piece of equipment to do the job. This applies for a disabled employee or job applicant when:
- The employer is made aware of the of the disability
- The employee asks for adjustments to be made
- A disabled employee is having trouble with any part of their job
- An employee’s sickness record, or delay in return to work, is linked to their disability
However, there are limited circumstances where an employee may act in a way which is discriminatory. But this can only occur if it can objectively justify discrimination as what the law terms ‘a proportionate means of achieving a legitimate aim’. Employers should note that this can be a difficult process.
An employee who is recruiting staff may make limited enquiries about an applicant’s health or disability under the terms of the Equality Act. However, you can only be asked about your health or disability:
- To decide if you can carry out a task that is an essential part of the work
- As part of the monitoring process
- To help find our if you can take part in an interview
- To help decide if the interviewers need to make reasonable adjustments for you in a selection process
- If they want to increase the number of disabled people they employ
- If they need to know for the purpose of national security checks
Furthermore, you may be asked whether you have a health condition or disability on an application form or in an interview. However, you need to think about whether the question is one that is allowed to be asked at that stage of recruitment.