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Equality Act: the Government outlines the main provisions

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The Government has confirmed the provisions that will come into effect when the Equality Act is in place next Friday (1 October).

The Government Equalities Office confirms that the Act outlines the basic framework of protection against direct and indirect discrimination, harassment and victimisation in services and public functions, premises, work, education, associations, and transport.

It will adjust the definition of gender reassignment, by removing the requirement for medical assessment and a ‘level up’ protection for people discriminated against because they are perceived to have, or are associated with someone who has, a protected characteristic – such as carers.

The laws will apply the European definition of indirect discrimination to all protected characteristics. It will extend protection from indirect discrimination to disability and introduce a new concept of ‘discrimination arising from disability’, to replace protection under previous legislation lost as a result of a legal judgment.

They will make it more difficult for disabled people to be unfairly screened out when applying for jobs, by restricting the circumstances in which employers can ask job applicants questions about disability or health.

The Act will apply the detriment model to victimisation protection (aligning with the approach in employment law) and harmonise the thresholds for the duty to make reasonable adjustments for disabled people.

It will extend protection from third party harassment to all protected characteristics.

It will allow hypothetical comparators for direct gender pay discrimination and make pay secrecy clauses unenforceable.

Finally, it will extend protection in private clubs against discrimination on the basis of sex, religion or belief, pregnancy and maternity, and gender reassignment and introduce new powers for employment tribunals to make recommendations that benefit the wider workforce.

The Government is still considering the socio-economic duty on public authorities; dual discrimination; gender pay gap information; provisions relating to auxiliary aids in schools; diversity reporting by political parties; positive action in recruitment and promotion and prohibition on age discrimination in services and public functions