Equality Act 2010: new secondary legislation supports definition of disability

The Government has published the Equality Act 2010 (Disability) Regulations 2010 (SI 2010/2128), which include provisions that support the definition of disability in the Equality Act 2010 coming into force on 1 October 2010. 

As with the Disability Discrimination Act 1995 (DDA), to be protected from disability discrimination under the Equality Act 2010, an individual has to have a physical or mental impairment that has a substantial and long-term adverse effect on his or her ability to carry out normal day-to-day activities. The Equality Act 2010 (Disability) Regulations 2010 set out conditions that are specifically excluded from constituting a disability that were previously included in the Disability Discrimination (Meaning of Disability) Regulations 1996 (SI 1996/1455):

  • An addiction, including a dependency on alcohol, nicotine or any other substance, is treated as not amounting to an impairment for the purposes of the Equality Act 2010, although addictions that were originally the result of the administration of medically prescribed drugs or other medical treatment are included. 
  • Some mental health conditions such as a tendency to set fires, steal, or physically or sexually abuse other persons, or a compulsion toward exhibitionism or voyeurism are not by themselves disabilities under the Equality Act 2010. 
  • Seasonal allergic rhinitis, better known as hay fever, is also expressly excluded from being treated as an impairment under the Equality Act 2010, except where it aggravates the effect of another condition. 
  • Tattoos and body piercings are not severe disfigurements that are treated as having a substantial adverse effect on the ability of the person concerned to carry out normal day-to-day activities. 

The Equality Act 2010 (Disability) Regulations 2010 also provide that a person is deemed to have a disability if he or she is certified as blind, severely sight impaired, sight impaired or partially sighted by a consultant ophthalmologist. This provision was previously contained in the Disability Discrimination (Blind and Partially Sighted Persons) Regulations 2003 (SI 2003/712). 

As well as these new Regulations, 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 It is consulting on draft guidance until 31 October 2010.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 (Disability) Regulations 2010 were published on the same day as the Equality Act 2010 (Sex Equality Rule) (Exceptions) Regulations 2010 (SI 2010/2132) and Equality Act (Age Exceptions for Pension Schemes) Order 2010 (SI 2010/2133), which also come into force on 1 October 2010. These Regulations set out exceptions to the rules on non-discrimination in relation to sex and age for occupational pension schemes. 


Outlook video: Equality Act - disability XpertHR's head of content Jo Stubbs and group editor David Shepherd discuss changes to the law on disability discrimination that will be brought in by the Equality Act 2010. 

XpertHR has been reporting on developments on the Equality Act 2010: