The making of the fourth commencement order earlier this week marks the final phase of the legal preparations for Equality Act 2010 to come into full effect next Friday (1 October). We now know for sure exactly what provisions are being commenced, and the short answer is pretty much everything. In the employment field the main exceptions are the clause which would allow employers to select a member of a protected group in preference to another equally-qualified candidate and a provision which could be used to compel larger private- sector employers to publish details of their gender pay gap. Other notable exceptions include the single equality duty (not due to be implemented until April 2011) and the extension of age discrimination to the provision of goods and services, for which no date has yet been set. Uncertainty also surrounds the future of the dual discrimination provisions, which would allow claims to be brought based on a combination of two different protected characteristics.
There has been a steady stream of other statutory instruments over the last few weeks. The most significant ones include supplementary regulations on disability and new questionnaire forms. New guidance on the matters to be taken into account when deciding whether the statutory definition of disability is satisfied is currently only available in draft, and the old guidance will continue to apply until the necessary revisions are finalised.