Equality Act Amendments
The 1st January 2024 will see the introduction of amendments to the Equality Act 2010. The Equality Act 2010 (Amendment) Regulations 2023 consolidate specific discrimination protections derived from EU caselaw that would have otherwise ceased to exist at the end of this year because of the government’s approach to Brexit.
The key changes are:
- Expanded definition of disability
Currently a person is disabled if they have a physical or mental impairment which has a substantial and long-term effect on their ability to carry out normal day to day activities. New wording will ensure that when assessing normal day to day activities, a person’s ability to participate fully and effectively in working life on an equal basis with other workers must be considered.
- Protection for breastfeeding mothers
Women are protected from direct sex discrimination if they are treated less favourably because they are breastfeeding. However there will now be the inclusion that if they are treated less favourably (such as failing to provide suitable facilities for her to store and express breast milk) at work because they are breastfeeding, they will be able to bring direct sex discrimination claims against their employers.
- Indirect associative discrimination
This amendment will allow an employee to bring a claim, even if they don’t share the protected characteristic of a colleague, provided they can demonstrate that they suffer the same disadvantage.
For example, men with childcare responsibilities may be able to use similar indirect sex discrimination arguments deployed by women looking for family-friendly working arrangements. In addition, workers who care for family members who are disabled may also be able to argue that requiring them to work full-time or office-based, may amount indirect disability discrimination.
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