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 feel comfortable and relaxed when feeding their children. This is why we've set up the Breastfeeding Welcome Here Award - to encourage establishments like cafes, 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.

International Men's Day 2017

We have an active programme of raising awareness and supporting our employees to stay healthy, and services for supporting employees is far reaching. We have lead responsibility for the Healthy Workplaces Programme in Derbyshire, working with many employers from all sectors to improve health and wellbeing for people in work.

One of the most difficult groups of employees to engage with is men, especially middle aged and older men - one of the main groups at risk of ill-health. 

Traditional attitudes toward attending GP surgeries means many men are diagnosed later increasing the chance of conditions becoming serious and debilitating. 

Many, such as road workers and those in more technical roles, work in occupations which can be physically demanding. Our male employees have an average age approaching 50 years.

Over recent years a number of male employees have raised concerns that our equality and diversity agenda has often focused on women, and that there have been few activities highlighting areas of male inequality.

In order to remedy this situation the Diversity and Inclusion Board is supporting an event on 22 November 2017 coinciding with International Men's Day. This will focus on improving awareness and access to health information, screening and services targeted at men. Our Public Health Service is taking the lead as a part of their Healthy Workplaces programme.

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