The Equality Act 2010 & Changing Places

Equality Legislation For Changing Places

Introduced in 2010, the Equality Act ensures that businesses fairly treat everyone, both employees and customers alike. The act is designed to ensure those with a protected characteristic have the same experience as everyone else – this includes people with disabilities. In this blog, we explore how the Equality Act impacts Changing Places, and discuss what constitutes ‘reasonable adjustments’.

What Does the Equality Act Mean for Those With Disabilities?

The Equality Act was designed to protect people against discrimination, harassment, or victimisation in the workplace, and as users of services. The act specifically protects people based on the following protected characteristics:

  • Age
  • Disability
  • Gender reassignment
  • Marriage and civil partnership
  • Pregnancy and maternity
  • Race, religion, or belief
  • Sex, and sexual orientation


The act means any people falling within these categories must not be treated any less favourably than someone who doesn’t have a protected characterise.

For disabled people specifically, this means anyone who is disabled, thought to be disabled, or is with someone who is disabled must be treated fairly by employers and businesses offering goods and services.

When it was introduced, it replaced the Disability Discrimination Act 1995, an earlier act that was designed for similar reasons.


How Do Businesses Apply The Equality Act?

The act states that businesses providing goods or services must make ‘reasonable adjustments’ to ensure anyone can access their services.

“The Equality Act 2010 requires providers of goods, facilities and services to members of the public (i.e. shops and offices) to make reasonable adjustments to improve access to premises/buildings.”

– The Equality Act 2010

This includes providing ‘reasonable access’ to those services – for example, including an accessible toilet in your building to ensure there are adequate facilities for those with disabilities.

If you don’t already have ‘reasonable access’, the act also states that ‘reasonable adjustments’ should be made to allow disabled people to use your business.

Why not attend one of our Changing Places seminars?

What Are Reasonable Adjustments?

There are no set guidelines on what constitutes reasonable access or reasonable adjustments, instead, businesses are relied upon to make their own sensible decisions and implement changes.

What is reasonable looks different depending on the type of business you run but some basic steps you can take to ensure you meet requirements are:

  • Changing policy – for example, lifting a blanket ban on dogs allows people access who will be accompanied by a service dog.
  • Installing auxiliary aids and services – such as providing access to a hearing loop for people with hearing disabilities.
  • Making physical changes – this means making your premises physically accessible. An example of this would be installing a wheelchair ramp.


These adjustments should not be ignored until you are in a situation where a customer can’t access your business – it is your duty to anticipate these needs.

However, the Equality Act does recognise that what is ‘reasonable’ is dependent upon the situation. For example, a cinema would not be expected to increase lighting during showings to help those with sight disabilities as this would change the nature of the service provided. But a cinema could increase floor lighting guides and ensure lights are tuned up immediately before and after a film showing.


Is a Changing Places Toilet A Reasonable Adjustment?

It is in this grey area or reasonable and unreasonable that many businesses fall short of meeting the needs of the disability community. This is especially true when it comes to installing a Changing Places toilet.

With over 230,000 people in the UK needing assistance to use the toilet or change continence pads there is a large portion of the population which could benefit from being able to access a Changing Places toilet.

In our view, and the thousands of people living with disabilities, the demand for this type of toilet is there, meaning it wouldn’t be considered unreasonable for businesses to install a Changing Places toilet based on the requirement.

For some businesses, the cost of installing a Changing Places toilet may be deemed unreasonable but what is considered a reasonable expense when it comes to vastly improving the lives of people with disabilities? In many cases, help with funding is available and associated installation costs can be offset by making your business available to more customers.

Perhaps one circumstance where it could be argued a Changing Places toilet could be more difficult to install is in the case of historic and listed buildings. But even here, with a little consideration and the help of a company specialising in disability adaptions, it is entirely possible to install sympathetic Changing Places facilities that satisfy all associated legislation.

Just last year, the Tower of London installed a Changing Places, proving it is entirely reasonable to work one of these toilets into older properties and attractions.

Reasonable is ultimately your choice until it isn’t, and you encounter a situation where a customer is discriminated against. Although the discrimination may be inadvertent, that doesn’t excuse it and it won’t stand up in court.

Why not take proactive steps today to make your business more inclusive? Learn more about Changing Places…
Depending on what type of business you run and where you are based, there may be a number of funding options available.
To give you an idea of Changing Places costs, we have listed the different CP options below and what you can expect to pay.
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