'An Act to make provision to require Ministers of the Crown and others when making strategic decisions about the exercise of their functions to have regard to the desirability of reducing socio-economic inequalities; to reform and harmonise equality law and restate the greater part of the enactments relating to discrimination and harassment related to certain personal characteristics; to enable certain employers to be required to publish information about the differences in pay between male and female employees; to prohibit victimisation in certain circumstances; to require the exercise of certain functions to be with regard to the need to eliminate discrimination and other prohibited conduct; to enable duties to be imposed in relation to the exercise of public procurement functions; to increase equality of opportunity; to amend the law relating to rights and responsibilities in family relationships; and for connected purposes.'
The Equality Act was introduced on 1 October 2010. It gives legal protection from discrimination in the workplace and in wider society, consolidating three previous duties covering race, disability and gender, bringing them together into a single duty, and extending it to cover the ‘protected characteristics’ of age, sexual orientation, religion or belief, pregnancy and maternity, and gender reassignment.
Legislation consolidated into the Equality Act includes:
- The Equal Pay Act.
- The Sex Discrimination Act.
- The Race Relations Act.
- The Disability Discrimination Act.
- The Employment Equality (Religion or Belief) Regulations.
- The Employment Equality (Sexual Orientation) Regulations.
- The Employment Equality (Age) Regulations.
- Being or becoming a transsexual person.
- Being married or in a civil partnership.
- Being pregnant or having a child.
- Race including colour, nationality, ethnic or national origin.
- Religion, belief or lack of religion/belief.
- Sexual orientation.
- People associated with someone who has a protected characteristic, eg a family member or friend.
- People that have complained about discrimination or supported someone else’s claim.
The Act provides protection in the following situations:
- At work.
- In education.
- As a consumer.
- When using public services.
- When buying or renting property.
- As a member or guest of a private club or association.
Whilst the accessible design of buildings is regulated by the Building Regulations Part M: Access to and use of buildings, the Equality Act does require "reasonable adjustments" to be made when providing access to goods, facilities, services and premises. The duty to make reasonable adjustments is set out in paragraph 2 of both Schedule 2 (in relation to public authorities and service providers); Schedule 8 (in relation to employers) and Schedule 15 (in relation to associations).
The relationship between the Act and the Building Regulations is set out in CLG Divisional circular letter about the Building Regulations 2010: Equality Act clarification (9 December 2011) which states:
‘Part M sets out minimum requirements to ensure that a broad range of people are able to access and use facilities within buildings. The Equality Act 2010 brings together and replaces existing equalities legislation including the Disability Discrimination Act 1995 (DDA). The Equality Act requires reasonable adjustments to be made in relation to accessibility. In practice, this means that due regard must be given to any specific needs of likely building users that might be reasonably met. Compliance with the requirements of Part M does not therefore signify compliance with the much broader obligations and duties set out in the Equality Act. This is a source of frequent misunderstanding.’
- Eliminate unlawful discrimination, harassment and victimisation.
- Advance equality of opportunity.
- Foster good relations between communities.
 Related articles on Designing Buildings Wiki
- Accessibility in the built environment.
- Access audit.
- Access consultant.
- Access and inclusion in the built environment: policy and guidance.
- Approved documents.
- Approved document M.
- Braille signage and accessibility.
- Building Regulations.
- Changing lifestyles.
- CIAT celebrates Pride 2020.
- Disabled access lifts.
- Emotional Intelligence in Construction.
- Equal opportunities policy.
- Hearing loss and the built environment.
- Inclusive design.
- Lifetime homes.
- Lifetime neighbourhoods.
- National Disability Strategy.
- Neurodiversity in the built environment.
- Older people.
- Planning transport for people with disabilities as the population ages.
- Protected characteristics.
- TUPE Regulations.
 External references
Diversity, social value and skills
 Are you looking for..?
- Work Opportunities (from work experience to jobs)
- Activities & Events
- Ask a Person
- Search Organisations (careers support specific to diverse groups)
 Join in
Have you got useful material to share?
If it is relevant to the Built Environment and to diversity, skills and social value, then help people to find it by adding details to this People microsite and using the guidelines below.
 Add your own content
- For guidance about writing and adding your own content see Get started - top tips and help.
- Some articles are more popular and useful than others. This article explains more.
- Make sure you use the right title as this helps search engines find it. See here for guidance.
- Add your signature to link readers to your profile.
- Tick the 'People' box when you submit the article - that way your content will appear in this Building People microsite.
- Finding it tricky? Contact us for assistance.