These pages do not apply outside Great Britain.
Most services fall within the rules on 'services to the public'. However there are special rules for a few individual types of case, and this page points up where special rules apply.
"EqA" or "Equality Act" means the Equality Act 2010 (link to legislation.gov.uk)
The "Employment Code" means the 2011 Equality Act Code of Practice on employment (pdf, link to EHRC website).
As a general rule, anyone concerned with the provision of goods, services or facilities to the public, or to a section of the public, is within the rules on services to the public. This will cover most services.
To give just a few examples, this includes shops, restaurants, banks central and local government (so far as they provide services to the public, eg libraries, rubbish collection), medical services, churches, and advisers (lawyers, accountants, debt counselling etc). There is a limited exemption for transport.
As regards pupils and students (actual or prospective), schools and providers of further or higher education (including universities) are generally covered by the separate education rules in Equality Act Part 6. This extends to education but also to other services such as outings.
Bodies awarding qualifications are also normally covered by special provisions in Equality Act Part 5 or 6. See below Exams.
However the 'rump' of education and related services which are not covered by these special rules will generally be covered as 'services to the public' falling within Equality Act Part 3, for example:
Bodies awarding qualifications are also normally covered by special rules in Equality Act Part 5 or 6:
The rules on 'services to the public' only apply where there is a provision of goods, services or facilities. But some functions of public authorities do not involve a 'service' to the person, for example if a police officer arrests someone, or a local authority enforces a council tax charge.
However, since December 2006, discrimination in carrying out public authority functions is also covered by the legislation, under separate but similar rules.
Because the rules on 'services to the public' only apply where the services or facilties are being provided to the public (or to a section of the public), they do not apply where admission to membership is regulated by the association's rules and involves a selection process..
However, since December 2006 private clubs of this sort are subject to the legislation if they have 25 or more members. The Equality Act calls them 'associations' and they are covered by specially adapted rules, now in Part 7 Equality Act (Chapter 12 of the Services Code).
The special rules on private members' clubs do not apply if an organisation merely requires members of the public to pay a fee to join, without any form of selection. An example would be a nightclub or a gym, even if it calls itself a 'club', or refers to customers as 'members' (Services Code para 12.6). This is a provision of services to the public, and accordingly the general rules on that in Part 3 Equality Act will apply.
There are rules in Part 4 Equality Act relating to those selling, letting or managing property. I don't deal with them on this website. The pre-Equality Act rules are dealt with in Chapters 13-19 of the Revised Code of Practice: Rights of Access (pdf file on EHRC website).
However, hire of premises or booking rooms in hotels or guest houses is not covered by the 'premises' rules and will normally be 'services to the public' (para 3.16-3.17 of Revised Code of Practice: Rights of Access).
'Employment services' are covered by separate rules within the employment section of the Equality Act. Claims go to the Employment Tribunal.
Broadly, employment services include vocational guidance or training services, services designed to assist people to find or keep jobs or establish themselves in self-employment, and services for supplying employers with people to do work.
Training by the employer is not covered (that is within the normal employment provisions), nor is training which falls within the education provisions of the Equality Act such as by universities and further education colleges. As regards training, the Employment Code para 11.60 gives as examples of employment services: "providing classes on CV writing and interviewing techniques, training in IT/keyboard skills, providing work placements and literacy and numeracy classes to help adults into work."
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Last updated 2nd January, 2011