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The Equality Act: One year on

As well as consolidating existing legislation, the Equality Act 2010 also extended discrimination protection to a wider range of workers and introduced new safeguards. Just over one year on from its introduction, is the Act making a difference?

The Equality Act 2010 extended protection to the majority of those who work in any capacity, as well as job applicants who never start work, former employees and the self-employed. It also provided protection for the first time from discrimination by association or perception, and protection from discrimination arising from a disability. Several entirely new provisions came into force too, such as rules on gender pay reporting, pay secrecy and combined discrimination and a ban on pre-employment health questions.

Sandra Wallace from law firm DLA Piper is cautiously optimistic about the Act's impact on employment practice. Writing recently in HR Magazine, Wallace stated that the Act's greatest success has been the harmonisation of over 100 separate discrimination measures, and that the disability discrimination provisions introduced by the Act have had 'an immediate and practical impact on employers, and forced employers to carefully review their old policies and procedures.' Progress has also been made on gender discrimination, with the Government taking steps to promote voluntary gender equality reporting.

While cases interpreting the new provisions are only now starting to filter through the tribunal system, the next few months should prove crucial in assessing the Act's true impact in helping to tackle discrimination at all levels.

Acas can visit your organisation to assist in addressing a range of issues related to equality and diversity and then work with you to develop practical solutions. Acas experts can help you to draw up policies to prevent discrimination in the workplace put in place bullying and harassment procedures.

Visit the Acas training and business solutions area for more information.

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