Equality Act 2010 – Equality law reforms and harmonisationThursday, April 15th, 2010
The Equality Act 2010 gained Royal Assent on 8 April 2010 and is expected to come into force from October 2010. The Act repeals much of the existing discrimination legislation. For example, the whole of the Equal Pay Act 1970, the Sex Discrimination Acts 1975 and 1986, the Race Relations Act 1976, and the Disability Discrimination Act 1995 will be repealed from the effective date. In addition, key Regulations governing equality in relation to occupational pension schemes, religion and belief, sexual orientation, and age are all revoked.
The new Act, to a large extent, consolidates the provisions of these former Acts and Regulations, but also paves the way for greater equality protections. For example, in the context of employment,
- a single objective justification test will apply across all areas of discrimination, requiring employers to show that particular conduct is a “proportionate means of achieving a legitimate aim” – a stricter test than currently applies.
- contractual terms that are intended to prevent employees from comparing their rates of pay are unenforceable where the objective is to determine whether the differences indicate discrimination of any kind
- new regulations will be made to require employers with 250 or more employees to publish information about the differences in pay between male and female employees.
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