Gender equality and the Equality Act 2010

The Equality Act 2010 further enhances gender and gender re-assignment-based equality and requires employers to be more open about differences in pay between men and women.


The act includes a number of specific provisions relevant to gender and gender re-assignment, including:

Protected characteristics

Gender and gender re-assignment are protected characteristics under the new act, and direct, indirect, harassment and victimisation are unlawful under the act.

Pregnancy and maternity is also a protected characteristic under the new legislation, offering greater recognition in law to discrimination experienced by pregnant women and new mothers.

When the law applies for gender re-assignment

The Equality Act has changed the point at which people undergoing gender re-assignment gain protection in employment and the delivery of services.

Under the new law, a person will have protection if they are proposing to undergo, are undergoing or have undergone a process or part of a process in order to re-assign their gender.

Effectively, from the point at which a person tells their employer or a service provider they intend to undergo gender re-assignment. They are entitled to protection because of gender re-assignment.

The law will also provide protection in employment to people undergoing gender re-assignment, by stopping employers from penalising them for taking time off work when undergoing medical treatment or experiencing sickness as a result of any treatment they receive in order to undergo re-assignment.

Breastfeeding mothers

The Equality Act makes it unlawful for providers of services or the owners of publicly used places to ask a mother who is breastfeeding to stop or to use a private room or facility.

This change provides more dignity for mothers who need to feed their babies, and should help stop discrimination against them.

We aim to create an atmosphere in which breastfeeding mothers may fell comfortable and relaxed when feeding their children. This is why we've set up the Breastfeeding Welcome Here Award - to encourage establishments like cafe's GP surgeries, libraries and even schools to actively support staff in making their premises breastfeeding friendly.

Find out more information about the breastfeeding welcome here award.

Equal pay

There are a small number of changes to the law on equal pay.

The two main changes include:

  • Plans to make employers publish information about gender pay gaps - this will require employers to publish information about any inequalities in pay between male and female employees.

  • Making 'pay gagging clauses' unlawful − this is where employees have been prevented from divulging how much they are paid. In the past this has helped employers hide inequality in pay between men and women.

Public sector duty to promote equality

View our updated information on the new public sector equality duty which replaced the duty to promote gender equality.

Why trans equality is important for us

The exact number of people who live as the gender opposite to their birth gender in Derbyshire − often referred to under the umbrella term 'trans' is unknown, although Derbyshire Friend, the main LGBT campaigning and support organisation in the county, has estimated the number at around 250. Many more people are believed to experience 'gender dysphoria' but have not made the transition towards living and appearing as the same gender to that which they identify with.

People who identify as trans continue to experience significant discrimination and harassment, despite changes in the law, and the development of services to respond to hate crime and harassment. The recent case of Lucy Meadows who committed suicide because of horrendous treatment by a national newspaper, has reminded us about the difficulties faced by trans people in the face of continued media and other discrimination and ignorance.

International Transgender Day of Remembrance has been marked worldwide every 20 November since 1998 and was begun to honour Rita Hester, whose murder started the "Remembering Our Dead" web project and a San Francisco candlelight vigil in 1999. Rita Hester's murder − like most anti-trans murder cases − has yet to be solved.

A number of events are taking place nearby to mark International Transgender Day of Remembrance and these are open to people living in Derbyshire.

We are committed to advancing equality and eradicating unlawful discrimination on grounds of gender re-assignment. We work closely with organisations like Derbyshire Friend to support campaigns for equality, to improve our understanding of the needs of local trans people, and by actively supporting our trans employees through a range of support and via our Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Trans (LGBT) Employee Network. We have recently drafted helpful advice for managers and HR staff on supporting trans employees − based on the learning we've gained from supporting a number of employees who have transitioned and become out at work as trans.

You can find more information about our LGBT Employee Network below.

Related documents

The following document is in Word format. You can download software to view Word documents for free from the Word viewer page (opens in a new window) of the Microsoft website.

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