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The Equality Act 2010 brought together all of the existing regulations that gave protection against any kind of discrimination. The aim was to make the law simpler. It also strengthened protection in some situations.

This is now the main law relating to disability. It provides the right to not be disadvantaged or treated badly at work or in education because of your disability.

Who the Equality Act covers

The act covers you if you have a physical or mental health disability that has a 'substantial' and 'long-term' negative effect on your ability to do normal daily activities. This covers people with physical, mobility and sensory impairments, such as wheelchair users, people with cerebral palsy, visually impaired and hearing impaired people. It also covers people with dyslexia, mental health conditions, asthma and diabetes. People with multiple sclerosis, cancer (including those in remission) and HIV are covered by the act from the point of diagnosis.

What the Equality Act does

The Equality Act makes it unlawful to;

  • Discriminate against a disabled person applying for a job or in employment. This covers full and part-time work, apprenticeships, work placements and contract positions.
  • Treat a disabled person less favourably than a non-disabled person for any reason relating to their disability.
The act applies to employing organisations of all sizes, as well as professional bodies that regulate entry into work. The only exception is the armed forces.

You can also complain to your employer if you have been discriminated against. Talk to them about your needs as many employers will take positive steps to support you once they realise your concerns. If this approach is unsatisfactory, organisations such as the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (ACAS external site), the Citizens Advice (external site) service and the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC external site) can provide advice.