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Equality Act 2010

You may be aware that the Equality Act 2010 gained royal assent earlier this year.  Further guidance is due to be issued by the Equality and Human Rights Commission in the near future, but in the meantime, you may find this Equality Challenge Unit briefing useful.

Existing legislation

The Disability Discrimination Act (DDA) 1995 was passed to end the discrimination that many disabled people face.

It aimed to protect disabled people in:

  • Employment
  • Access to goods, facilities and services 
  • Management, buying or renting of land or property 
  • Education

With regards to employment, the DDA made it unlawful for an employer and therefore any of its staff to discriminate against a disabled person for a reason that relates to the persons disability, if that treatment cannot be justified.

This applied not only to recruitment but all areas of employment including the terms and conditions of employment, opportunities for promotion, transfer, training, dismissals, redundancies, and post employment (e.g. the provision of references).

For education providers, new duties came into effect in September 2002 under Part IV of the DDA amended by the Special Educational Needs and Disability Act (SENDA).

These require the University to ensure that it does not discriminate against disabled students, prospective students, and visiting students in its service provision.

Further regulations, the Disability Discrimination Act 1995 (Amendment) Regulations 2003 aim to make the law more inclusive and introduced certain key amendments, including:

  • Change of burden of proof from employee to employer;
  • Specific prohibition of harassment based on disability.

Most recently, a new Disability Discrimination Bill was given royal assent in April 2005 and has now become the Disability Discrimination Act (2005).

This Act, which extends the scope of the Disability Discrimination Act (1995), will amongst other things:

  • Make it easier for mental health service users, people with cancer, HIV and multiple sclerosis to claim their rights under the DD;
  • Address institutional discrimination through a duty to promote disability equality for the public sector.