Creating a fairer Britain
The Equality Act came into force on 1 October 2010. Some of the information on this page may be out of date.
Public service providers have a duty to ensure that everyone has equal access to their services, regardless of disability, race, gender, belief, religion or sexual orientation. The law also applies to anyone providing services on behalf of a public authority (for example because that service has been contracted out.
Under some circumstances, the law on discrimination does not apply. See When discrimination is lawful.
Public service providers are generally required to make reasonable adjustments to ensure that disabled people can access their premises. They may also treat disabled people more favourably than others if this achieves equal access.
A hospital dedicates parking spaces close to its entrance doors for use only by people who use wheelchairs or have other mobility issues. Non-disabled people and disabled people without mobility issues might also want a parking space. The extra distance they must walk may be an inconvenience. However, people with mobility issues face a degree of disadvantage compared to others if they do not have dedicated parking. They may be unable to work for the authority or access a service without the more favourable treatment of dedicated parking facilities.
Find out more about the legal duties of public authorities.
A council’s burial service is closed at weekends. The condition applies to everyone, but particularly disadvantages Muslims and Orthodox Jews, whose religion require them to bury their dead within 24 hours. The Council's policy not to open at weekends may constitute indirect discrimination on grounds of religion and belief.
A man with arthritis wants to visit a country house which is open to the public. There is no ramp or handrail and as a result he cannot get into the building. The owner says he assumed he can’t make changes to the house because it is a listed building. Service providers are only exempt from the duty to make reasonable adjustments where they have no choice.
In this case, the owner’s failure to seek consent for reasonable adjustments may mean that he has acted unlawfully.