The Equality Act 2010 finally came into force on 1 October 2010 to much fanfare.

However, the accompanying statutory Codes of Practice issued by the Equality and Human Rights Commission have only just been implemented on 24 March and came into force with effect from 6 April 2011.

There are three Codes of Practice:

  • Employment  
  • Equal pay  
  • Services, Public Functions and Associations.  

All three Codes will be relevant to businesses and other organisations – either in their capacity as employers or in the context of their provision of goods, services or facilities to the public, in the private, public or voluntary sectors. The Codes provide extremely detailed advice on how the provisions of the new Act should be implemented and give very practical examples of how discrimination on the basis of the relevant protected characteristics can be avoided.

Although the Codes do not impose legal obligations, they can be used in evidence in legal proceedings brought under the Act. Courts and tribunals must take into account any part of a Code that appears to them relevant to any questions arising in proceedings. So, being aware of the contents and following these Codes may help employers, providers of services, those exercising public functions and associations to avoid adverse findings in discrimination claims brought against them.