Who is covered by the disability discrimination provisions of the Equality Act 2010?

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, 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 to their own clients and customers are excluded. Freelance workers who work for, and are integrated into an organisation and provide their services to its clients and customers are likely to be protected.

For example in one case, a GP who had a contract to provide his services as a hair restoration surgeon to a company that offered hair restoration services to its own clients and customers was a “worker” when providing those services. In another example, a plumber was a worker when he provided services to the customers and clients of a plumbing company, even though he was also entitled to pay tax and national insurance on a self-employed basis. He was integrated into the plumbing company and held out as a member of its workforce. The Supreme Court ruled that he was entitled to bring a claim for disability discrimination.

Note: This content is provided as general background information and should not be taken as legal advice or financial advice for your particular situation. Make sure to get individual advice on your case from your union, a source on our free help page or an independent financial advisor before taking any action.

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