The Equality Act 2010 (Amendment) Regulations 2023 (EAAR) seeks to codify a number of important EU derived equality rights, which otherwise would fall away from 1 January 2024, meaning workers can rely directly on our domestic law for redress.

The EAAR makes various changes to the Equality Act 2010. Some of these a quite technical however a few key noteworthy examples are set out below:

Amended definition of disability

This new wording provides that the reference in the definition of disability to “a person’s ability to carry out normal day-to-day activities” will include an inability “to participate fully and effectively in working life on an equal basis with other workers”.

This means that, in practical terms, if a worker can show that their physical or mental impairment has a substantial and long-term adverse effect on their ability to fully and effectively participate in working life equally with their colleagues, it will be easier for them to establish that they are disabled.

Direct discrimination protection for women who are pregnant, who are breastfeeding or who are on maternity leave

  • Less favourable treatment on the grounds of breastfeeding constitutes direct sex discrimination;
  • Unfavourable treatment after return from maternity leave where that treatment is because of the pregnancy or a pregnancy-related illness is protected; and
  • Where the right to maternity leave arises from occupational maternity scheme, women are protected against pregnancy and maternity discrimination and can bring a claim without the need for a comparator.

Prohibiting indirect associative discrimination

The provisions enable a person without a protected characteristic to bring an indirect discrimination claim if “the provision, criterion or practice puts, or would put, [them] at substantively the same disadvantage as persons who do share the relevant protected characteristic” (our emphasis).  This is known as “associative” discrimination.

An example of a claim for indirect associative discrimination can be seen in the 2018 case of Mrs J Follows v Nationwide Building Society which was based on the employee’s association with her disabled mother in relation to the requirement for senior managers to switch from hybrid working to being office based. In this case, the employment tribunal awarded the employee £345,000 in compensation.

Discriminatory statements about recruitment

A general discriminatory statement made in connection with a relevant recruitment decision may constitute direct discrimination, even if there is no active recruitment exercise in process and no identifiable victim.


Most of these changes do no more than codify what is already in practice. The extended definition of disability is more interesting. Whilst new government guidance on the changes to the Equality Act 2010 will not be issued it is expected that there will be future cases in the employment tribunal which revolve especially around the amended definition of disability and what “participating fully and effectively” in working life might look like. However, it is not clear if the Equality and Human Rights Commission will update its guidance and Codes of Practice in relation to these changes.

Should you require any advice in relation to any of the changes outlined above, please get in contact with our Employment team.