Equality Act 2010

The Equality Act 2010 combines a whopping 116 separate pieces of legislation into one single Act that is more accessible and easier to understand. This Act protects the rights of individuals and ensures equality of opportunities whilst preventing discrimination and unfair treatment.

There are nine protected characteristics in the Equality Act. Discrimination which happens because of one or more of these characteristics is unlawful under the Act. We all have some of these characteristics – for example, sex or age – so the Act protects everyone from discrimination.

If you’re treated unfairly because someone thinks you belong to a group of people with protected characteristics, this is also unlawful discrimination.

What are the protected characteristics?

The characteristics that are protected by the Equality Act 2010 are:

  • age
  • disability
  • gender reassignment
  • marriage or civil partnership (in employment only)
  • pregnancy and maternity
  • race
  • religion or belief
  • sex
  • sexual orientation.


Further information

View the full Equality Act 2010 on the Office of Public Sector Information website.

Guidance for employers about their responsibilities under the Equality Act 2010. This guidance has been written by the Equality and Human Rights Commission to explain your responsibilities under equality law.

Key areas of guidance for employers


Citizens Advice and the Government Equalities Office have produced a guide to some of your rights under the Equality Act. To download an online copy of the Equality Act 2010: What do I need to know? A summary guide to your rights, click on Equality Act 2010: What do I need to know [ 210 kb].


equality act


This information has been sourced via The Equality and Human Rights Commission, ACAS and GOV.UK.

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Phone: 0161 532 8252