90% of the provisions of the Equality Act 2010 came into force on 1 October. This is a consolidating piece of legislation. The nine pieces of legislation being brought together under the Act are:
• Equal Pay Act 1970
• Sex Discrimination Act 1975
• Race Relations Act 1976
• Disability Discrimination Act 1995
• Employment Equality (Religion or Belief) Regulations 2003
• Employment Equality (Sexual Orientation) Regulations 2003
• Employment Equality (Age) Regulations 2006
• Equality Act 2006
• Equality Act (Sexual Orientation) Regulations 2007
Among the changes to the law introduced on 1 October include:
• Making pay secrecy clauses unenforceable. This will protect employees who choose to discuss their pay with each other for the purposes of uncovering discrimination. This is particularly helpful for those seeking to ensure that employers are not discriminating in pay and conditions between male and female employees.
• Extra protection for disabled people. The new law restricts the circumstances in which employers can ask job applicants questions about disability or health prior to offering them a position. This gives disabled applicants greater protection from employers that unfairly screen out disabled applicants.
• New powers for employment tribunals. Where an employer has discriminated against an employee, the tribunal will be allowed to make recommendations that could affect the whole workforce - for example, calling for harassment policies to be more effectively implemented - instead of being restricted to measures that will benefit the employee who brought the action.
• Employers have a responsibility to protect their staff, where possible, from harassment by customers.