The Equality Act 2010 applies across the United Kingdom and joins up nine main pieces of legislation into one legal framework and a single Act of (UK) parliament to simplify legislation and advance discrimination law. The previous Acts and laws that have played a key role in the development of the Equality Act include:

These laws have been developed over time to protect individuals from unfair treatment and also to promote more equal societies. Their history is a testimony to the continually evolving field of equality.

The Equality Act 2010 is a milestone in that it brings many legal specialisms under the one heading, paving the way for integrating equality perspectives into everyday work practices (see for instance the Scottish Government Mainstreaming Equality statement).

What are the prohibited conducts under the Equality Act?

The Equality Act prohibits:

  • Discrimination (direct, indirect, by association and by perception)
  • Failure to provide reasonable adjustments
  • Harassment (including third party harassment)
  • Victimisation

Who is protected by the Equality Act?

The Act protects everyone in the United Kingdom against discrimination because of the characteristics that we all have. Under the Equality Act, they are classified as nine protected characteristics.  These are listed below, you can click on each link for more information on how they are defined and apply in context:

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

In addition, The Fairer Scotland Duty, Part 1 of the Equality Act 2010, came into force in Scotland from April 2018. This places a legal responsibility on particular public bodies in Scotland to actively consider (‘pay due regard’ to) how they can reduce inequalities of outcome caused by socioeconomic disadvantage, when making strategic decisions.

To fulfil their obligations under the Duty, public bodies must be able to meet what we’ve called the key requirement in each case:

  • to actively consider how they could reduce inequalities of outcome in any major strategic decision they make
  • publish a written assessment, showing how they’ve done this.

Some other considerations worth bearing in mind are as follows:

  • The Duty applies from 1 April 2018 and does not cover decisions made before this date
  • The Duty also does not override other considerations – such as equality or best value.

Are you being discriminated against?

If you are looking for specialist advice on discrimination or are thinking you might be discriminated against, FCE recommends directly contacting Equality Advisory and Support Service (EASS):

Equality Advisory and Support Service (EASS)
Phone: 0808 800 0082


Alternatively, you can find out more information by clicking the following link for their online portal. It follows a clear step-by-step procedure and can help explain how the Equality Act can apply in your situation:

If you live, work or study in Fife, we can also offer advice and support, contact us at:

Fife Centre for Equalities
New Volunteer House, 16 East Fergus Place, Kirkcaldy, KY1 1XT

Telephone: 01592 645 310

You can also use our online Community Concerns Register to flag up concerns you have about equality in your community. FCE collects this feedback and relays it to the Fife Council Equality Unit and NHS Fife Equality and Human Rights teams. We also use it for raising awareness of equality through our events, workshops or briefings.

Are you looking for guidance on UK policy related to the Equality Act?

The Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) website hosts detailed advice for individuals and organisations, including policy and technical guidance:

Organisations can access specific information about their rights and responsibilities as employers under the Equality Act 2010 through the ACAS  website: