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Equality Act 2010: when does it come into force?

Most of the Equality Act 2010 came into force on 1st October 2010. However some parts were deferred, and a few will not come into force at all. This page only deals with disability discrimination provisions. (For the Act generally, including how it changes the law, please link to my Equality Act 2010 page.)

October 2010 implementation

The vast majority of the Equality Act, its "core provisions", came into force on 1st October 2010, as intended by the previous Labour government: www.homeoffice.gov.uk/equalities/equality-act/commencement/

Equalities minister Lynne Featherstone said that the provisions taking effect in October 2010 represent 90% or more of the Act (Hansard, 13/9/10). Of the changes listed on my Equality Act page, three very important ones which came into force on 1st October 2010 are the objective justification test, provisions remedying the Malcolm case, and the new rules on pre-employment health enquiries.

The main Commencement Order for the 1st October 2010 implementation is SI 2010 No. 2317: The Equality Act 2010 (Commencement No. 4, Savings, Consequential, Transitional, Transitory and Incidental Provisions and Revocation) Order 2010 (link to legislation.gov.uk).

Transitional arrangements

Regarding how to decide whether discrimination falls within the DDA as before 1st October 2010, or within the Equality Act as after that date, see my page Which Act applies: Equality Act or DDA? and the Government guidance Equality Act 2010: Transitional Arrangements (link to GEO site archived at National Archives).

In force from April 2011: public sector duty and positive action

Public sector equality duty

The 'general duty' under the single Public Sector Equality Duty (PSED) took effect as from 5th April 2011. The relevant Commencement Order is SI 2011/1066 (link to legislation.gov.uk).

'Specific duties' under the PSED are now all in force: for Wales from April 2011; for England and for non-devolved bodies from September 2011; and for Scotland from May 2012.

Positive action

S.159 Equality Act 2010 came into force on 6th April 2011. This allows employers to use positive action in recruitment within certain limits, where one applicant is 'as qualified' as the other - Featherstone: new tools will help make the workplace fairer (link to GEO site archived at National Archives). The Commencement Order for s.159 is SI 2011/96 (link to legislation.gov.uk).

Favouring disabled people over non-disabled is legal anyway, but s.159 may be relevant to permit an employer to favour those with particular disabilities. See further Direct discrimination: Treating disabled people more favourably, which (under 'Positive action') also includes a link to a Government Equalities Office Quick Start guide for employers on s.159.

In force from September 2012: Auxiliary aids in schools

The new auxiliary aid duty on schools came into force on 1st September 2012. The relevant commencement order is SI 2012/2148.

Not coming into force at present: dual discrimination

It was announced in the Plan for Growth (link to hm-treasury.gov.uk) as part of the 2011 Budget that s.14 will not be brought into effect. However in May 2012 the government said only it would 'delay' the introduction of the dual discrimination provision (Ministerial Statement (link to edf.org.uk)). For more, see Multiple discrimination.

Diversity reporting for political parties: still being considered

So far as I know, as at February 2012, s.106 on diversity reporting by political parties is not yet in force.

On this area, see the Government's September 2011 Access to elected office for disabled people: A response to the consultation.

Ships, hovercraft, seafarers

Pending regulations under EqA s.30, the pre-Equality Act rules on provision of services still apply to various services relating to ships and hovercraft. (Article 10 of SI 2010/2317 (link to legislation.gov.uk)). See Transport: Ships and hovercraft.

As regards application of the employment provisions to work on ships and aircraft, regulations on what connection with Great Britain is required came into effect on 1st August 2011: see Connection with Great Britain > Equality Act: work on ships and hovercraft.

Equality Act 2010 - main page


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Last updated 5th January, 2013