There has been considerable speculation recently about whether and when the new Government would implement the Equality Act 2010.

The Government Equalities Office (“GEO”) has now confirmed that the first wave of implementation will take place in October, as originally planned, following the publication of the first commencement order in Parliament on 5 July. This will, according to a press statement issued by the GEO, “pave the way for implementation of landmark provisions to protect disabled people from discrimination and tackle the gender pay gap”.

The main provisions of the Act will come into force on 1 October 2010. These will include, among other provisions:

  • standardised definitions of prohibited conduct embracing direct and indirect discrimination, harassment and victimisation across the nine separate protected characteristics or equality strands (sex, race, disability, sexual orientation, religion or believe, age, marriage and civil partnership, gender reassignment and pregnancy and maternity);
  • in relation to disability discrimination, in addition to clarifying the operation of the duty to make reasonable adjustments, the introduction of two new types of discrimination: (i) discrimination arising from disability (which replaces the rather limited disability-related discrimination provision); and (ii) indirect discrimination.
  • confirms the case law position that discrimination can be brought on grounds of association and perception.

The GEO has not so far confirmed whether and when the provisions of the Equality Act 2010 permitting positive action and providing for private sector gender pay reporting obligations will come into force.