Equality of toilet provision – The Equality Act 2010

Whilst not a legal guide, information is provided here, and in our guides, to help you assess if your toilet provision is meeting the required standards and your Equality Act duties. Only a court can decide if you have failed to prevent or caused disability discrimination.  Similarly, toilets which do not comply with health and safety will be subject to further actions and investigation from relevant safety bodies.
Guide to Accessible Toilet Standards and Equality Act Requirements

The Equality Act 2010


In the UK, the Equality Act protects the rights of all disabled people, as individuals – which includes sanitary facilities that are provided.

Facilities being offered must provide equal access to toilets for disabled customers / visitors and employees, to the same standard as non-disabled people.  This means meeting their Equality Act 2010 obligations. Public bodies such as councils, schools and hospitals have additional duties under human rights law and the Equality Act.

The Equality Act does not recognise ‘minimum standards’. An individual disabled person or carer could argue that there has been no ‘reasonable adjustments’, as required by law, as it relates to them.  Also, what is ‘reasonable’ changes over time and adjustment is an ongoing obligation.

Being Reasonable

A business should pay close attention to how ‘reasonable’ is judged in courts and described in the Equality Act. Many businesses underestimate the extent of their duty to make adjustments and do what is reasonable in all of the circumstances.  Citing ‘too expensive’ or ‘disruptive’ without evidence of a thorough assessment and providing strong reasoning would be unwise.

Making adjustments

Businesses must take positive steps to remove barriers to disabled people and make reasonable adjustments. They must think ahead and plan to remove barriers – not wait until a person has had difficulties or feels they have been discriminated against.

Listen to the experiences of disabled people and if a problem has occurred take reasonable action to prevent discrimination from re-occurring in a timely manner – the ongoing obligations of the Act.

If someone doesn’t cooperate with their duty to make adjustments, the Equality Act says it’s unlawful discrimination.

The duty to make reasonable adjustment, imposed by the Equality Act 2010, means that provisions beyond that in Approved Document M [AD M] of the building regulations are likely to be required to anticipate the needs of a range of disabled people so they have equal toilet access.

You may have to upgrade your toilets now rather then wait for a ‘refit’ or new toilet block to be built.

Reasonable adjustments may include:

  • Gaining a thorough understanding of the needs of a range of different people and understanding particular needs e.g. asking “what do we need to do specifically for people with profound and multiple learning difficulties” as opposed to ‘what facilities do disabled people need’ or ‘what is the minimum standard we have to meet’.
  • Auditing toilet facilities thoroughly – not just against minimum standards.
  • Consulting with disabled staff, customers or other organisations to ensure facilities meet a wide range of people with different hygiene needs.
  • Making physical adjustments / building new toilets.
  • Providing Changing Places toilets or hiring a mobile unit
  • Publishing access statements about toilet facilities.
  • Making people aware of the type of facilities you have (e.g. widths of doors, heights of toilets, layout of grab rails, type of lighting etc).

What do the building regulations say?

Although the guidance in this Approved Document, if followed, tends to demonstrate compliance with Part M of the Building Regulations, this does not necessarily equate to compliance with the obligations and duties set out in the EA [Equality Act].

This is because service providers and employers are required by the EA to make reasonable adjustment to any physical feature which might put a disabled person at a substantial disadvantage compared to a non-disabled person.

In some instances this will include designing features or making reasonable adjustments to features which are outside the scope of Approved Document M. It remains for the persons undertaking building works to consider if further provision, beyond that described in Approved Document M, is appropriate.


How do I upgrade my existing toilets?

cp_doorTo provide good facilities the following types of venues (but not inclusively) should be looking at 1 or more Changing Place toilets alongside provision of toilets that meet the latest building regulations (October 2015) – these have diagrams of exactly how to fit out a toilet, what size it should be etc for maximum accessibility.

  • major transport terminals or interchanges such as airports, large railway and bus stations
  • motorway service stations
  • sport and leisure facilities, including entertainment arenas, stadiums, large hotels, large theatres and multiplex cinemas
  • cultural centres such as museums, concert halls and art galleries
  • shopping centres, large retail developments and Shopmobility centres
  • key public buildings within town centres such as town halls, civic centres and principal public libraries
  • educational establishments, including universities
  • health facilities such as hospitals, health clinics etc.
  • portable facility at outdoor events

There is also a British Standard for accessibility BS8300:2009.

Guides on our link/resources page will also help you.

Full details about Changing Places and are available from:


Smaller venues should look at recent building regulations below and also look at whether other facilities could be offered e.g. a hoist or a changing bench for disabled children if they can not provide a Changing Place.


If toilet facilities are not meeting the needs of individual disabled people, organisations must change things to make sure there is suitable toilet provision. Not having useable toilet facilities would be a major barrier to using / visiting , or working for an organisation.

Having no usable toilet facilities is also highly likely to prevent substantial income generation from disabled people and their families because they would be unable to visit, or visit for the same length of time as non-disabled people might.


  1. We are trying to open a tiny tea room. It an historic building and the toilet is down a narrow corridor and sadly would be impossible to adapt for disabled access. We have a disabled public toilet and showers (male and female) at the back of the property approx 30 mtrs away. Would this suffice? We would have to close the toilet facilities and all use the public loos?

    1. Hello, thank you for getting in touch.

      This project is funded entirely by donations and membership to provide full and up to date information about providing/designing, using and finding accessible toilets in the UK.

      To keep our information services free to disabled people, businesses will need to become members to access our information and advice services.

      Members benefit from 1:1 consultancy and up to 40% of our publications.

      To join please visit:


  2. Does a school (with 1000 pupils and 120 staff@) have to have an accessible toilet for staff in a wheelchair ?

    1. Under Public Sector Duties within the Equality Act, any school (regardless of capacity) has to assess and preempt the needs of disabled staff, children, parents, volunteers etc. Any of these may require access to a toilet and this should be considered. Ie you would have to have a strong case as to why the courts would deem it reasonable not to. For staff they also have a right to an accessible toilet under the Act and also your responsibility to ensure their health needs. Their workers rights also cover equal access to advertising vacancies, interviews and all other aspects ( across all types of impairments and before the potential discrimination is experienced). Private schools are also covered in the same way as a private business under the Act.

      I hope this helps. Regards Louise

      :- Our project is only funded by donations – you can support this information service and find out about membership benefits from https://www.buymeacoffee.com/ohhowlovely

  3. My Private Members Club has just spent £65,000 re-furbishing the toilets but have not installed disabled facilities. Should it?

    1. Hi, private clubs have to ensure compliance with the Equality Act. They also have to comply with building regulations which have a formula for helping businesses know how to plan for access. In a nutshell, if you provide toilets for your members of staff then you have to provide toilets for disabled members (present and future as the requirement is anticipatory). If you have built new toilets then there must be a minimum of a unisex wheelchair accessible space (and ideally to meet future legislation hopefully coming in in England this year and already in Scotland) a Changing Places toilet for buildings of certain types and size). If you haven’t got these facilities then a member could approach the court with a case of discrimination. A refurbishment may not come under building regs if nothing is being ‘built’ as such but the Equality Act still applies – so since at least since 2010 they should have had an accessible toilet and to not then included one in a refurb or extension wouldn’t go down so well in favour of the business if they had to explain why not in court. Only a court can decided ultimately if the business had a good reason not to meet the Act.

  4. No disabled toilet facilities in most of the Job centre plus Centres especially Kings Heath Birmingham.
    I found it very surprising when this agency is dealing with large volumes of disabled people

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