The core provisions of the Equality Act 2010 came into force on 1 October 2010.
The Act replaces nine major pieces of discrimination legislation and other ancillary measures that have been introduced over the last forty years to protect people from unfairness and discrimination on grounds of age, disability, gender reassignment, marriage and civil partnership, pregnancy and maternity, race, religion or belief, sex and sexual orientation. These are now called ‘protected characteristics’.
The scope of the Act ranges from employment law to laws governing the provision of goods and services and beyond. It not only harmonises current equality legislation but also extends some protections to characteristics that were not previously covered and strengthens some aspects of equality law.
The provisions in the Act come into force on different dates so as to allow time for those affected by the changes in the law to prepare for them.
The Government Equalities Office has a list of the measures that came into force on 1 October 2010.
The Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service has published guidance for employers on changes to workplace equality law introduced by the Act.