Better protection for people with mental distress
The Equality Act came into force on 1 October 2010, replacing the Disability Discrimination Act (DDA). In some ways, the new Act builds on the DDA, such as in creating new restrictions on employers to use pre-employment health questionnaires in recruitment.
However, during the parliamentary stages of the Equality Bill, Mind was also calling for the following amendments, not all of which were addressed by the last Government. Where there is still opportunity to influence the implementation of the Act we will be lobbying Government and the EHRC to secure better protections for people with experience of mental distress.
Mind fought for
- The definition of disability to be widened so people with fluctuating conditions like depression are protected from discrimination. The last Government did not accept our amendments, but promised to address this in guidance.
Read the joint response to the draft guidance from the Disability Charities Consortium, which Mind substantially contributed to.
- Section 141 of the Mental Health Act to be repealed, so MPs who are detained under the Mental Health Act do not automatically lose their seat. This was not addressed in the Bill, but there has been recognition from all parties that it needs to be addressed.
- For employers to be required to make reasonable adjustments for disabled people; for public authorities, such as the police or education authorities, to treat disabled people favourably if this will allow them access to equal opportunities (as in current legislation). This was included in the legislation.
- Multiple discrimination to be made unlawful, so people who are discriminated against on more than one ground (such as their mental health, sexuality and ethnicity) can take their case to court. This was included in the legislation, but the coalition Government is considering whether to take it forward.