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Equality Act 2010

two people of different race working together

The Equality Act 2010 gives protection to disabled people from discrimination in a number of different areas, including employment and recruitment.

The Equality Act 2010 is the law which promotes equal opportunities in the workplace and in wider society by outlawing discrimination based on:

  • Age 
  • Disability
  • Gender reassignment
  • Marriage and civil partnership
  • Pregnancy and maternity
  • Race 
  • Religion and belief
  • Sex
  • Sexual orientation

The above are also known as ‘protected characteristics’ in the act.

The act replaced previous anti-discrimination laws with a single act simplifying and strengthening the law and making it easier to understand and comply with.

HIV is considered to be a disability for the purposes of the act from the time of diagnosis.
Protection in the workplace

The act makes it illegal for employers to discriminate on grounds of disability. This applies from the point of recruitment to throughout one’s employment and it covers:

• Working hours, flexible working and time off
• Pay and benefits
• Career development - training, promotion and transfer
• Dismissal, redundancy, retirement and after a worker has left
• Equality policies, equality training and monitoring
• The way an employee is treated by the employer and colleagues
• The duty to make reasonable adjustments for disabled people

Probably the most important aspects of the legislation to disabled people are:

A) The prohibition, except in very restricted circumstances, for the employer to ask the job applicants health or disability related questions until the person has been offered a job.
B) The right of the employee to request reasonable adjustments.

Reasonable adjustments means that employers must take reasonable steps to remove barriers so that disabled workers can carry out their job without a disadvantage.

Some examples of ‘reasonable adjustments’ are:

  • Allocating some of the disabled person’s duties to another person. 
  • Transferring the person to an existing vacancy.
  • Altering the person’s hours of working or training.
  • Work or training at a different location.
  • Getting or changing equipment.
  • Changing instructions or reference manuals.
  • Modifying procedures for testing or assessment.
  • Allowing a disabled employee to take a period of disability leave.
  • Providing supervision or other support.

What is ‘reasonable’ is determined on a case-by-case basis. An employer may consider how effective the change will be in avoiding the disadvantage a disabled employee would otherwise experience, its practicality, the cost based on the organisation’s resources and size and the availability of financial support.

A Summary of the changes brought by the Equality Act 2010:

  • Strengthened disabled people’s protection from discrimination.
  • Protects people from discrimination by association and perception.
  • Single Public Sector Equality Duty covering the 9 protected characteristics.
  • Positive Action in recruitment and promotion which gives greater scope to address deficits in the workforce.
  • Strengthening the powers of employment tribunals.
  • Strengthening the protection for pregnant women and breastfeeding mothers.
  • Banning discrimination in private members’ clubs.

Further information and guidance

The Government Equalities Office has more detailed information including Equality Act 2010: What do I need to know?, which contains short guides to the Act explaining how the changes to the law affect different people and organisations and providing practical examples.

The Equality and Human Rights Commission has published detailed guidance on equality law and good practice as well as a code of practice - Codes of Practice on the Equality Act 2010.


THT Direct can help with individual enquiries from people living with or affected by HIV who feel they have experienced these types of discrimination. Get in touch with us and we’ll put you in touch with a local advice service.


The Information Standard: Certified member

This article was last reviewed on 12/6/2013 by T. Kelaart

Date due for the next review: 31/1/2014

Content Author: E. Cotton & E. Zoumas

Current Owner: Advice & Advocary

More information:

Equality Act 2010: What do I need to know?, Government Equalities Office (2010)

Codes of Practice on the Equality Act 2010, Equality and Human Rights Commission

The Equality Act 2010- Easy Read,  Government Equalities Office (2010)  

Guide to the Equality Act, (ACAS 2010)