Equality Act 2006
The Equality Act 2006 gained Royal Assent on 16 February 2006.
The Act will introduce a new 'gender duty' which will require public bodies to take account of the different needs of men and women in order to ensure equality of opportunity when formulating policies or providing services. The Act will also outlaw discrimination on the grounds of religion or belief and sexuality in the provision of goods, facilities, services, education or rented accommodation.
From an employment law point of view, the Act creates a new, integrated equality commission, called the Commission for Equality and Human Rights, which from October 2007 will combine the functions of the Equal Opportunities Commission and the Disability Rights Commission. The work of the Commission for Racial Equality will be included from 2009 onwards.
The new Commission will also be responsible for dealing with discrimination on the grounds of religion or belief, sexual orientation and age. Legislation to outlaw discrimination in the workplace on the grounds of age is due to take effect in autumn 2006.
As well as challenging discrimination, the new body will also be responsible for promoting human rights issues.
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