The Equality Act 2010
The Equality Act 2010 was designed to pull together the diverse anti-discrimination legislation that existed in the UK prior to 2010 into one, easy to understand Act.
The Act is a simplification of the previous legislation and therefore makes the law easy to understand and comply with.
Under the Equality Act 2010, a person is disabled if they have a physical or mental impairment which has a substantial and long-term adverse effect on their ability to perform normal day-to-day activities.
- ‘substantial’ means more than minor or trivial
- ‘long-term’ means that the effect of the impairment has lasted or is likely to last for at least 12 months (please note, there are special rules for recurring or fluctuating conditions)
- ‘normal day-to-day activities’ include things like getting out of bed, washing, eating, walking and going shopping
Some progressive conditions are also covered by the Act. People with HIV, cancer or MS are protected by the Act from the point of diagnosis. Some visual impairments are also automatically classed as a disability and covered by the Act.
There are some conditions, however, which are specifically excluded from being covered by the Act, such as addictions to non-prescribed substances.
You can read the current guidance on the definition of disability on the Equality and Human Rights Commission’s (EHRC) website.
You can also download guidance relating to the definition of disability here: http://www.equalityhumanrights.com/
Scope of the Act
The Equality Act 2010 aims to prevent disability discrimination and provide protection for disabled people under the law. It also says that people must not be discriminated against or harassed because they are mistakenly perceived to be disabled.
In particular, it provides legal rights for disabled people in:
- access to goods, services and facilities
- buying and renting land or property
- functions of public bodies
The Equality Act provides protection for carers, friends and family members of a disabled person by stating that people cannot be directly discriminated against or harassed because of their association with a disabled person.
For publications and more information about the Equalities Act and other issues around disability discrimination, please visit the Equalities and Human Rights Commission: http://www.equalityhumanrights.com/