Constructing Better Health News Updates

The Equality Act 2010

 The Equality Act 2010
The Equality Act became law in October 2010. It simplifies and streamlines the law and strengthens particular aspects of existing equality law. As a result, there may be a need to review and change some policies and practices within the workplace.
The Equality Act covers discrimination in the following areas:
• Age
• Disability
• Gender reassignment
• Race
• Religion or belief,
• Sex,
• Sexual orientation
• Marriage and civil partnership
• Pregnancy and maternity.
These are now referred to as ‘protected characteristics’.
Of particular significance to occupational health practice are the changes surrounding disability.
Disability - under the Equality Act 2010
•It is now easier to be eligible under the Act and therefore protected from discrimination
• There is no change in the definition of disability:
  • Having a physical or mental impairment which has a substantial and long term adverse effect on ability to carry out normal day-to-day activities such as using a telephone, going shopping or using public transport.
• Continues to put duties on employers to make reasonable adjustments for the disabled to help overcome disadvantage resulting from impairment.
The Act includes new protection - that it is discrimination to treat a disabled person unfavourably because of something connected with a disability (e.g. a tendency to make spelling mistakes arising from dyslexia). This type of discrimination is unlawful where the employer or other person acting for the employer knows, or could reasonably be expected to know, that the person has a disability.
The Act includes a new provision which makes it unlawful, except in certain circumstances, for employers to ask about a candidate’s health before offering work.
Pre-placement health-related checks
The Equality Act limits the circumstances of when to ask health-related questions.
Prior to making a job offer, health-related questions can only be asked to help to:
• Decide whether to make any reasonable adjustments for the interview and selection process.
• Decide whether an applicant can carry out a function that is essential (‘intrinsic’) to the job–
• Monitor diversity among people making applications for jobs
It should be noted that once an offer of work is made (whether this is an unconditional or conditional job offer), it is permitted to ask appropriate health-related questions.
Constructing Better Health will be amending the Occupational Health standards to reflect the changes brought in by the Equalities Act; however, the principles of the new Equalities Act have always be part of good practice guidelines contained in the standards.
For more detailed information go to:
The Equalities and Human Rights Commission
The Government Equalities Office
Acas website

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