The Equality Act 2010 is a piece of legislation passed in October 2010. This Act replaces a number of previous legislations concerned with discrimination including the Sex Discrimination Acts of 1975 and 1986, the Race Relations Act 1976 and the Disability Discrimination Act 1995. The consolidation of many Acts has been implemented in order to streamline the legislation and make it simpler and more consistent. The Act relates to nine characteristics that it is unlawful to discriminate against.
These are as follows; age, disability, gender reassignment, marriage and civil partnership, pregnancy and maternity, race, religion or belief, sex and sexual orientation. Its aim is to protect people with any one or more of these characteristics from discrimination, harassment or victimisation. This legislation supports quality in an early education and childcare setting as it falls in line with the National Care Standards published by the Scottish Government, particularly with regards to Standard 8, which states that any service users “will be treated equally and fairly”(2005, p. 1).
This standard goes on to explain how staff members will treat all service users, parents and carers fairly, showing respect for their requirements and characteristics. This standard also relates to the staff members themselves being treated fairly. The Equality Act 2010 promotes inclusion and reflects children’s rights in relation to the United Nations Convention on Rights of the Child ratified by Great Britain in 1992. Article 2 of this legislation is concerned with protecting children from discrimination of any kind.
The Act also supports quality in a nursery setting by helping to ensure that no “indirect discrimination” takes place. According to the Centre for Studies on Inclusive Education “indirect discrimination occurs when treating all pupils in the same way results in putting pupils with a protected characteristic at a disadvantage”. Daly et al (2009, p. 272) supports this view stating that “equality is not about treating everyone the same”, rather it is being able to enjoy people’s individuality and diversity and providing fair treatment and equal opportunities.
This relates to my experiences in my role, as for example if there were children with visual or hearing impairments, I would have to think about their positioning in the playroom or outdoor environment during experiences in order to prevent them from being disadvantaged. The Equality Act will also affect recruitment procedures throughout the setting. As explained in the Act’s explanatory notes (points 197 – 202) under Section 60 employers are now prohibited from asking prospective employees health questions during the application process unless they specifically relate to an essential part of the job offered.
This ensures quality as it means no applicants can be discriminated against based on their state of health. In early education and childcare settings we strive to promote inclusion and equality for all children, service users, including parents and carers and also staff members. We can ensure this by following equal opportunities policies as well as aforementioned guidance and legislation.
Centre for Studies on Inclusive Education (2012). Qualities Act: 2010 Prohibition of Discrimination Available at: http://www.csie.org.uk/inclusion/equalities-act-2010.shtml
Daly, M. Byers, E. Taylor, W. (2009) Early Years Management in Practice 2nd Edition. Essex: Heineman.
Great Britain. Equality Act 2010. Chapter 15 (2010). Available at: http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/2010/15
Great Britain. Equality Act 2010 Explanatory Notes (2010). Available at: http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/2010/15/notes/contents
National Day Nurseries Association. Equality Act 2010 Member Factsheet (2010). Available at: http://www.tameside.gov.uk/earlyyears/pvi/equalityactfactsheet10.pdf
The Scottish Government (2005). National Care Standards, Early Education and Childcare up to the Age of 16.
United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (1989) Available at: http://www2.ohchr.org/english/law/crc.htm