The Equality Act 2010

The Equality Act 2010 brought together previous anti-discrimination laws with one single Act.  As a public body we must inform our employees about the responsibilities we have under the Equality Act.

We now talk about equality in terms of people's "protected characteristics". While it is important not to put people into boxes, the law has meant that we need to look at equality in terms of certain headings. 

The Equality Act 2010 makes your rights not to be discriminated against stronger. Discrimination means treating someone worse than other people because of who they are.  The groups of people who have the right not be discriminated against have also been extended. People who belong to these groups have what are called protected characteristics. 

Below you can access the protected characteristics and see our general and specific duties as a public body.

The Equality Act 2010 makes it unlawful to discriminate against people because of their age.

A person belonging to a particular age (for example 32 year old people) or range of ages (for example 18 to 30 year old people).

What is age discrimination?

This is when you are treated differently because of your age.

The treatment could be a one-off action or as a result of a rule or policy based on age. It doesn’t have to be intentional to be unlawful.

The Equality Act 2010 says that you must not be discriminated against because:

  • you are (or are not) a certain age or in a certain age group
  • someone thinks you are (or are not) a specific age or age group, this is known as discrimination by perception
  • you are connected to someone of a specific age or age group, this is known as discrimination by association

Age groups can be quite wide (for example, ‘people under 50’ or 'under 18s'). They can also be quite specific (for example, ‘people in their mid-40s’). Terms such as ‘young person’ and ‘youthful’ or ‘elderly’ and ‘pensioner’ can also indicate an age group.

For more information on age discrimination you can visit the Equality and Human Rights Commission Website here.

A person has a disability if she or he has a physical or mental impairment which has a substantial and long-term adverse effect on that person's ability to carry out normal day-to-day activities.

You can find out more information on disability advice and guidance on the Equality and Human Rights Commission website here 

Gender reassignment is the process of transitioning from one gender to another.

The Equality Act 2010 says that you must not be discriminated against because you are transsexual, when your gender identity is different from the gender assigned to you when you were born. For example:

  • a person who was born female decides to spend the rest of his life as a man

In the Equality Act it is known as gender reassignment. All transsexual people share the common characteristic of gender reassignment.

To be protected from gender reassignment discrimination, you do not need to have undergone any specific treatment or surgery to change from your birth sex to your preferred gender. This is because changing your physiological or other gender attributes is a personal process rather than a medical one.

You can be at any stage in the transition process – from proposing to reassign your gender, to undergoing a process to reassign your gender, or having completed it.  

To find out more information on gender reassignment discrimination visit the Equality and Human Rights Website here. 

Marriage is a union between a man and a woman or between a same-sex couple.

Same-sex couples can also have their relationships legally recognised as 'civil partnerships'. Civil partners must not be treated less favourably than married couples (except where permitted by the Equality Act).

Marriage and civil partnership discrimination is when you are treated differently at work because you are married or in a civil partnership.

You can find out more information on marriage and civil partnership discrimination on the Equality and Human Rights Commission website here 

Pregnancy is the condition of being pregnant or expecting a baby. Maternity refers to the period after the birth, and is linked to maternity leave in the employment context. In the non-work context, protection against maternity discrimination is for 26 weeks after giving birth, and this includes treating a woman unfavourably because she is breastfeeding.

You can find out more information about pregnancy and maternity in the workplace on the Equality and Human Rights Commission website here.

Refers to the protected characteristic of race. It refers to a group of people defined by their race, colour, and nationality (including citizenship) ethnic or national origins. Race discrimination is when you are treated differently because of your race.

The treatment could be a one-off action or as a result of a rule or policy based on race. It doesn’t have to be intentional to be unlawful.

To find out more about race discrimination you can visit the Equality and Human Rights Commission website here.

Religion refers to any religion, including a lack of religion. Belief refers to any religious or philosophical belief and includes a lack of belief. Generally, a belief should affect your life choices or the way you live for it to be included in the definition.

You can find out more information on religion or belief in the workplace on the Equality and Human Rights Commission Website here.

Sex discrimination is when you are treated differently because of your sex. 

The treatment could be a one-off action or could be caused by a rule or policy. It doesn’t have to be intentional to be unlawful.

You can find out more about sex discrimination on the Equality and Human Rights Commission website here.

Whether a person's sexual attraction is towards their own sex, the opposite sex or to both sexes.

Sexual orientation discrimination is when you are treated differently because of your sexual orientation.

The treatment could be a one-off action or as a result of a rule or policy based on sexual orientation. It doesn’t have to be intentional to be unlawful.

To find out more about sexual orientation discrimination you can visit the Equality and Human Rights Commission website here.

Our general duties under the Equalities Act 2010 show us how we can ensure that we use equality considerations in our day to day duties to make a fairer society for our staff, patients, visitors and the public.

We are required to:

  1. Eliminate unlawful discrimination, harassment and victimisation and other conduct that is prohibited by the Act
  2. Advance equality of opportunity between people who share a relevant protected characteristic and those who do not
  3. Foster good relations between people who share a protected characteristic and those who do not

To do this we should:

  • Remove or minimise disadvantages experienced by people due to their protected characteristics
  • Take steps to meet the needs of people from protected groups where these are different from the needs of other people
  • Encourage people with protected characteristics to participate in public life or in other activities where their participation is disproportionately low

Meeting this duty may involve treating some people more favourably than others, as long as this does not go against other rules within the Act.

In Wales, the Welsh Government has published Specific Duties under the Equality Act for all public bodies. A summary of these duties is listed below:

  • We are required to develop and publish a strategic equality plan at least every four years.  You can view our Strategic Equality Plan here.
  • We must assess the impact of any policy, strategy, project or financial decision to find out if there are any negative issues which we need to look at again to ensure that we have acted fairly in our decision making process. For more information about how we do this, please click here for the equality impact assessment section.
  • We must collect and publish equality information.  This includes our workforce data, customer surveys and any feedback from engagement.  This information can be used as evidence in any decisions that we make and in planning our services. This data is included in our annual equality reports, which you can view here.
  • We are required to identify, collect and publish information on pay differences between employees with any protected characteristics and those who do not share a protected characteristic.
  • We must consider equality, diversity and inclusion in all aspects of procurement.
  • We are required to publish an annual equality report, which assesses the effectiveness of our Strategic Equality Plan. You can view our annual equality reports here.
Share: