This new briefing from the Commons Library provides an overview of equality law, summarising the main concepts and the role of the Equality and Human Rights Commission.
You can find the full briefing here: https://commonslibrary.parliament.uk/research-briefings/cbp-9448/
The Equality Act 2010
The Equality Act 2010 consolidates most equality law into one Act. It prohibits conduct and creates duties in relation to ‘protected characteristics’. There are nine protected characteristics, listed in section 4 of the Act, ranging from age through to sexual orientation.
The Act prohibits direct and indirect discrimination, and harassment and victimisation. It also prohibits discrimination in relation to something arising from a person’s disability, and creates a duty to make reasonable adjustments for disabled people.
The Act applies in various scenarios, including at work, in education and in relation to services and public functions.
Public authorities are subject to a Public Sector Equality Duty. The Duty means they must ‘have due regard’ to equality considerations when exercising public functions.
Except for in Northern Ireland, which has its own equality legislation, equality law is largely reserved to the the UK Parliament. The legal concepts in this briefing apply across England, Wales and Scotland.
The Equality and Human Rights Commission
The Equality and Human Rights Commission was established by the Equality Act 2006, with a duty to promote and encourage understanding of equality and human rights.
Individuals enforce their rights under the Equality Act 2010 before the courts. However, the Commission also has a range of powers at its disposal to enforce equality law at a more institutional level, and often strategically intervenes as a party to litigation if doing so could help develop equality law.