The legal duties in the Equality Act 2010 are owed by all employers (including police and armed forces), regardless of the size of the organisation.
All employees, former employees and job applicants are protected. So are contract workers, most freelance workers, temporary agency workers, casuals, apprentices, people on work experience training, partners and barristers.
The genuinely self-employed, that is, people who run their own business, trading at arms-length with their own clients and customers to sell them goods or services, are not protected by the ‘Employment’ sections of the Equality Act 2010.
Only genuinely self-employed people, in business on their own account freely offering goods and services to their own clients and customers, are excluded. Take advice if you are uncertain.
For example in one case, a plumber providing services to the customers and clients of a plumbing company was not genuinely self-employed, even though he was legally entitled to pay tax and national insurance on a self-employed basis. He was working entirely under the direction of the plumbing company and held out to customers as a member of the company’s workforce. The Supreme Court ruled that he was not self-employed and was entitled to bring a claim for disability discrimination.