The Equality Act 2010 came into force on 1 October 2010. The Act brings together and replaces the previous anti-discrimination laws with a single Act, which aims to simplify and strengthen the law, removing inconsistencies and making it easier for people to understand and comply with it. The Act provides a legal framework to protect the rights of individuals and advance equality of opportunity for all and covers the following protected characteristics:
- Gender reassignment
- Marriage and civil partnership (only in relation to the requirement to have due regard to the need to eliminate discrimination)
- Pregnancy and maternity
- Religion or belief (or lack of belief)
- Race, including ethnic or national origin, colour or nationality
- Sexual orientation
The Equality and Human Rights Commission has further information about the Equality Act on their website. You can access their website by clicking here.
The Equality Duties
The public sector equality duty (the equality duty) is made up of a general equality duty which is supported by specific duties. The public sector equality duty is the formal title of the legislation, the general equality duty is the overarching requirement of the duty, and the specific duties are intended to help performance on the general equality duty.
The general equality duty requires public authorities, in the exercise of their functions, to have due regard to the need to:
- Eliminate discrimination, harassment and victimisation and any other conduct that is prohibited by or under the Act.
- Advance equality of opportunity between people who share a relevant protected characteristic and people who do not share it.
- Foster good relations between people who share a relevant protected characteristic and those who do not share it.
The specific duties were created by secondary legislation in the form of regulations. This guide relates to the specific duties for England (and non-devolved public authorities in Scotland and Wales). In summary, each listed authority is required to:
- Publish information to demonstrate its compliance with the general equality duty. This needs to be done no later than 31 January 2014, and at least annually after that, from the first date of publication. This information must include information relating to people who share a protected characteristic who are its employees or people affected by its policies and practices.
- Each listed public authority must prepare and publish one or more objectives that it thinks it needs to achieve to further any of the aims of the general equality duty. This must be done no later than 13 October 2013 and at least every four years after that. The objectives must be specific and measurable.
Click here to see our Equality Objectives which are included in our Equality and Diversity Strategy.
More guidance on the PSED can be found on the Public Sector Equality Duty section of the Equality & Human Rights Commission Website.