The UK Government has announced a series of amendments to the Equality Act 2010, that will come into force on 1 January 2024.
The UK’s post-Brexit ‘REUL’ Act will effectively remove certain EU-derived protections. The Equality Act 2010 (Amendment) Regulations 2023 is designed to ensure retention of certain discrimination provisions that would otherwise disappear from UK law under the REUL Act at the end of 2023, thereby averting any break in the existing protections.
To safeguard such rights and principles in UK law, the amendments make a number of changes to the Equality Act 2010 including:
- Full protection at work for people with disabilities, meaning that disability is understood in law as specifically covering a person’s ability to participate in working life on an equal basis with other workers when looking at ‘day-to-day activities’.
- Protection against discriminatory recruitment conditions, in particular covering discriminatory statements made by an employer about access to opportunities in their organisation and about not wanting to recruit people with certain protected characteristics even where there is no active recruitment process ongoing and no identifiable victim.
- Confirmation of the right to claim indirect discrimination by association and protection against indirect discrimination by association for those without a relevant protected characteristic who nevertheless suffer the same disadvantage due to the employer’s PCP as those who do have that characteristic
- Protection for women against less favourable treatment at work because they are breastfeeding with confirmation that employment discrimination on the grounds of breastfeeding falls under the protected characteristic of sex.
- Protection for women against unfavourable treatment after they return from maternity leave where that treatment is in connection with a pregnancy or a pregnancy-related illness occurring before their return.
- Protections for women against pregnancy and maternity discrimination where they do not have a statutory right to maternity leave but have similar rights under alternative occupational schemes.
- Confirmation that women can continue to receive special treatment from their employer in connection with maternity, for example through enhanced occupational maternity schemes.
- Confirmation of ‘single source’ test for establishing an equal pay comparator, where employees’ terms and conditions are attributable to a single source but not the same employer.
While the new legislation is effectively enshrining existing employment protections and principles into UK law, rather than introducing new provisions, employers may wish to take this opportunity to review organisational policies and procedures to ensure full compliance and reduce the risk of tribunal claims. For specialist advice, contact us.
Last updated: 8 November 2023