DAA News Network

UK: Equality Act passed

Posted 17/4-10 at 03.16


Almost two years after the Bill was published, the Equality Act was finally passed on April 8th, 2010. The Act brings 9 equality acts and over 100 other measures together in a single act. The Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) has claimed that '... a single legal framework, providing clearer, streamlined law that is more effective at tackling disadvantage and discrimination.'

The Act will start coming into force from October, 2010.



Editorial comment: The Equality Act contains a few significant improvements for disabled people. These include, employers being prohibited from asking about someone's impairment or ill health before a job offer is made. Also, protection against discrimination will be extended to people associated with a disabled person or other groups covered under the Act.

There are, however, some major short comings in the Act. The government ignored wide-spread support for adopting a social-model definition of disability. This is unfortunate not only for people in the UK, but also in terms of the country fulfilling its obligations under the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD), in which a social-model definition is used.

Furthermore, under Article 4 of the CRPD countries are required to ‘...adopt all appropriate legislative, administrative and other measures for the implementation of the rights recognized in the present Convention.' There seems to be nothing in the Act that recognises any of this or similar treaty obligations.

Another potential difficulty is that the public sector Disability Equality Duty will be substantially watered down, as it is brought together with other strands into a Single Equality Duty. There are also signs that statutory organisations may be able to chose which element of discrimination to focus upon.

Judging the effectiveness of the Act will have to wait to see if is implemented or downgraded by a new government after the May, 2010 election


Comment added 17/4-10 at 11.52 by: Branoc (Tony@cdp.org.uk)

Why is it that other groups appear to have the power to define themselves but for some reason Disabled people's movement lacks the political power or influence to do so?

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