The Equality Act 2010
The Equality Act 2010 brought previous anti-discrimination laws into one law. It provides a legal framework to protect the rights of individuals and promote equal opportunities for everyone. It clarifies what private, public and voluntary sectors must legally do to ensure that people with protected characteristics (such as a learning disability) are not disadvantaged.
What does the Equality Act do to advance opportunities for people with learning disabilities?
A key area of The Equality Act is the duty it places on public bodies to make ‘reasonable adjustments’ for people with a disability. A reasonable adjustment is a change that a public body makes to ensure that people with disabilities aren’t treated unfairly. If a person with a disability is at a substantial disadvantage compared to a person without a disability, or a person who does not share the same disability, the duty to make reasonable adjustments applies. The Equality Act is clear that the person using a service cannot be asked to pay the cost of making the reasonable adjustments.
What is meant by reasonable?
Whether the adjustment is reasonable depends on practicalities, including the size of the organisation, resources available, cost and whether changes have already been made. For example, it is reasonable that a hospital adapts the building to make it accessible to people using wheelchairs and provides information in easy read format. However, it may not be considered reasonable for a small shop owner with limited resources to be expected to make the same changes.
Can you give examples of reasonable adjustments?
- A learning disability liaison nurse supporting a person to meet hospital staff prior to a planned hospital admission
- A GP automatically offering double appointments to all registered patients with a learning disability
- Airports having a changing places facility
- A social worker ensuring information is available in a range of formats
- A police officer ensuring a British Sign Language Interpreter is present when interviewing a person who is deaf
- A hospital offering side rooms to family carers when a relative is admitted
Are family carers protected by The Equality Act?
Yes. The Equality Act makes it clearer than previous legislation that employers cannot discriminate against carers in work because of their association with the person that they care for. Although reasonable adjustments do not apply to family carers, they have a right to request flexible working hours from their employer to support them to balance work and their caring role. Carers are also protected outside of a work setting from indirect and direct discrimination.