The equality act 2010 key changes affecting clubs associations and charities
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The Equality Act 2010: Key Changes Affecting Clubs, Associations and Charities. What is an Association?. The provisions in Part 7 of the Equality Act apply to any association of people if: it has at least 25 members;

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What is an Association? Associations and Charities

The provisions in Part 7 of the Equality Act apply to any association of people if:

  • it has at least 25 members;

  • admission to membership is regulated by a set of rules and involves a selection process; and

  • it is not a trade organisation, such as a business or professional organisation or a trade union.


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What is not an Association? Associations and Charities

An organisation that merely requires members of the public to pay a fee to join it without any form of selection (such as a nightclub or a gym) is not an association under the Act, but is covered by other provisions.

A ‘club’ run by a group of friends without any formal structure (such as a book club or a women’s group or a walking group) is not an association under the Act.


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Provisions Affecting Associations Associations and Charities

Provisions not to discriminate, harass or victimise apply to members (of all types), guests and associates (actual and potential).

Associations that are charities are subject to additional provisions under the Act related specifically to charities.


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Membership Restrictions Associations and Charities

The Act permits associations of any size or character (other than political parties) to restrict their membership to persons who share a ‘protected characteristic’. For example, it is lawful to restrict membership to only disabled people or women.

A charity will not breach the Act by providing benefits only to people who share a particular ‘protected characteristic/s’ if this is in accordance with their constitution or governing document, and is either:

  • a ‘proportionate means of achieving a legitimate aim’ or

  • for the purpose of preventing or compensating for a disadvantage linked to that ‘protected characteristic/s’.


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Membership Restrictions (contd.) Associations and Charities

Restrictions based on ‘protected characteristics’ can also lawfully be applied to associates & guests of an association or charity.

This exception does not apply if the membership of an association or group of people who are to receive benefits under the charitable instrument is defined by colour (for example “for Black people only”), which is unlawful.


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Exceptions and Limitations Associations and Charities

Exceptions apply in relation to:

  • national security

  • charities

  • single sex services

  • services and membership of religious organisations

  • different treatment of pregnant women for their health and safety

  • selection of people for participation in competitive sport.


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Exceptions and Limitations (contd.) Associations and Charities

The prohibition of harassment does not apply where the protected characteristic is religion or belief or sexual orientation.

In such cases, a person who has suffered a detriment could bring a claim of direct discrimination.


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Exceptions and Limitations (contd.) Associations and Charities

If an association meets at the house of a member, there is no duty on that member to make adjustments to the physical features of their house.

However, the association may have to arrange a change of venue to ensure that disabled members have access to association benefits, facilities and services.


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