Equality Act 2010
The Equality Act came into force on 1 October 2010, and provides a single legal framework for discrimination in England, Scotland and Wales.
What is the Equality Act
The Equality Act 2010 replaces the existing anti-discrimination law with a single Act. It aims to make the law more consistent, clearer and easier to follow in order to make society fairer. It also strengthens the law in important ways to help tackle discrimination and inequality.
Who has responsibilities
The Act applies to all organisations that provide a service to the public or a section of the public (service providers). It also applies to anyone who sells goods or provides facilities. It applies to all your services, whether or not a charge is made for them.
Who is protected
The Act protects people from discrimination on the basis of ‘protected characteristics. The relevant characteristics for services and public functions are – age, disability, gender reassignment, race, religion or belief, sex, sexual orientation, marriage and civil partnership and pregnancy and maternity.
The public sector equality duty
The public sector equality duty came into force on 5 April, 2011. Its aim is to embed equality considerations into the day to day work of public authorities, so that they tackle discrimination and inequality and contribute to make society fairer. The public sector equality duty consists of two parts, the general duty and the specific duty.
The general duty has three aims and requires public bodies to have due regard to the need to:
Eliminate unlawful discrimination, harassment and victimisation and other conduct prohibited by the Act;
Advance equality of opportunity between people who share a protected characteristic and those who do not share it, and;
Foster good relations between people who share a protected characteristic and those who do not share it.
The specific duties are designed to help public bodies comply with the general duty. These duties require Public bodies to:
1. Publish equality information to demonstrate compliance with the general equality duty by 31 January 2012, then annually thereafter. This information shall include information relating to people from protected groups who are:
People affected by its policies and practices (eg service users)
2. Prepare and publish one or more equality objectives it thinks it should achieve to meet the general duty, by the 6 April 2012 and at least every four years after that.
The objectives we are proposing to focus on over the next 4 years are:
Embed the requirements of the public sector equality duty into organisational processes, policies and decision making
Ensure that our information and services are accessible and meet the needs of our communities
Improve our knowledge and understanding of the communities we serve
We are currently finalising our action plan which will detail how we intend to achieve these objectives and our measures of success. This will be published shortly.
See the Equality and Human Rights Commission website for guidance and good practice to help employers, workers, service users and service providers understand and use the new legislation.