Government publishes details of Equality Act coming into force on 1 October 2010

Alcoholics, smokers, voyeurs and exhibitionists will not be protected by disability provisions in the Equality Act, elements of which come into force on 1 October 2010.

The Government published the Equality Act 2010 (Disability) Regulations 2010 on 31 August, which include provisions that support the definition of disability in the Equality Act 2010.

Under the Equality Act 2010, which replaces all existing discrimination laws including the Disability Discrimination Act 1995, employers and service providers are not allowed to discriminate on the grounds of individuals’ physical or mental disabilities.

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For more detailed guidance on the practical impact of the new disability provisions in the Equality Act, members of Personnel Today Plus can read Disability under the Equality Act 2010.

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However, there are certain conditions that have been specifically excluded from constituting a disability, such as: addictions to alcohol, nicotine, or any other substance; some mental health conditions such as a compulsion towards exhibitionism or voyeurism; and hay fever, unless it aggravates the effect of another condition.

Addictions that were originally the result of the administration of medically prescribed drugs or other medical treatment are included under the act. More detail is provided here.

Those that have been certified blind, sight-impaired or partially sighted by a consultant ophthalmologist will be deemed to have a disability under the regulations.

Stephen Simpson, senior employment law editor at XpertHR, says the new legislation carried across some uncontroversial exclusions to the new Equality Act.

“What’s more interesting is what has been left out of the Regulations,” he told Personnel Today. “An individual no longer has to show that, where an impairment adversely affects his or her ability to carry out a normal day-to-day activity, that activity involves one of a specified list of capacities, such as mobility, speech, or the ability to understand.

“It will be left to tribunals to make a common-sense decision as to whether or not a particular impairment has a substantial effect on day-to-day activities. This should make it easier for individuals to show that they are disabled under the Equality Act 2010.”

Daniel Barnett, employment law barrister at Temple Garden Chambers, said: “This law makes it clear that employers are not required to make special adjustments to welcome voyeurs or exhibitionists into the workplace. Nor are employers required to make allowances for any mental disability if an employers wants to dismiss someone who turns out to be a voyeur or flasher.”

In addition, the Government is planning to replace the guidance on matters to be taken into account in determining whether or not an employee is disabled under the DDA with updated guidance to take account of the Equality Act 2010. It is consulting on draft guidance until 31 October 2010.

The Equality Act 2010 (Sex Equality Rule) (Exceptions) Regulations 2010 and Equality Act (Age Exceptions for Pension Schemes) Order 2010, which come into force on 1 October 2010, have also been published. These regulations set out exceptions to the rules on non-discrimination in relation to sex and age for occupational health schemes.

Further Equality Act 2010 detail is available on XpertHR.

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