April 5: Public sector equality duty comes into force
The public sector equality duty comes into force on 5 April 2011. Section 149 of the Equality Act 2010 provides for a single equality duty, which replaces the previous duties on race, gender and disability.
The public sector equality duty requires public authorities to have due regard to the need to:
- eliminate discrimination, harassment and victimisation;
- advance equality of opportunity between people who share a protected characteristic and those who do not; and
- foster good relations between people who share a protected characteristic and those who do not.
The duty covers the protected characteristics of race, disability, sex, age, sexual orientation, religion or belief, pregnancy and maternity and gender reassignment. Only the first part of the duty - the duty to eliminate discrimination, harassment and victimisation - also applies to the protected characteristic of marriage and civil partnership.
The public sector equality duty applies to public authorities that are listed in sch.19 to the Equality Act 2010. These include government departments, local authorities, NHS bodies, schools and other educational bodies and the police. The duty also applies to other bodies that exercise public functions.
The Government has delayed implementation of the proposed specific equality duties, which are intended to enable better performance of, and demonstrate compliance with, the general equality duty. The Government Equalities Office is reviewing the specific duties, which include the duty to publish equality information and equality objectives, and has said that it intends to bring them into force in July 2011.
- Avoiding discrimination - policies and monitoring The XpertHR employment law manual provides guidance on the general public sector equality duty, the proposals relating to the specific public sector equality duties and other provisions of the Equality Act 2010.
Equality Act 2010: Specific public sector equality duties to be reviewed and delayed Further information from XpertHR on the Government's proposals relating to the specific duties.