Equality Act 2010: Specific public sector equality duties to be reviewed and delayed
The Government is proposing to delay the implementation of the specific public sector equality duties and to make significant changes to the duties. Under the proposals, the deadline for publication of equality information is put back from 31 July 2011 to 31 December 2011.
The Government Equalities Office has also announced that the general public sector equality duty will now come into force on 5 April 2011, rather than 6 April 2011 as had previously been announced. It has said that it intends to bring the specific duties into force in July 2011.
The general public sector equality duty under s.149 of the Equality Act 2010 requires public bodies to eliminate discrimination, advance equality of opportunity and foster good relations between different groups. The specific duties are aimed at enabling better performance of, and demonstrating compliance with, the general equality duty.
On 12 January 2011, the Government Equalities Office published draft Regulations setting out the specific duties. It has now published a policy review paper setting out changes to its proposals. It has also published new draft Regulations to replace those published in January 2011. The main changes to the specific duties are that public bodies will not have to publish:
- evidence of engagement undertaken with interested parties on their policies and practices;
- evidence of equality analysis of their policies and practices;
- details of the information considered when undertaking equality analysis;
- details of engagement undertaken with interested parties when developing their equality objectives; or
- details of how progress towards their equality objectives will be measured.
Under the newly proposed specific duties, public bodies will be required to:
- prepare and publish one or more equality objectives;
- publish information to demonstrate compliance with the general equality duty, including information relating to persons who share a relevant protected characteristic who are:
- its employees; or
- other persons affected by its policy and practices.
The requirement to publish information on employees applies only to public bodies with 150 or more employees.
Public bodies (including schools) must publish the information to demonstrate compliance with the general duty no later than 31 December 2011. They must publish their equality objectives no later than 6 April 2012. Under the previous draft Regulations, the deadline for publishing information was 31 July 2011 (or 31 December 2011 for schools).
Public bodies will be required to comply with the general equality duty from 5 April 2011, notwithstanding that the Government does not intend to bring the Regulations setting out the specific duties into force until July 2011.
The Government’s aim is to remove unnecessary procedural requirements and to assist public bodies to comply with the general duty by providing guidance, rather than regulation. It is inviting comments on the new draft Regulations, to be provided by 21 April 2011.
- The public sector Equality Duty: reducing bureaucracy (PDF format, 113K) The policy review paper, which includes the new draft Regulations, is available on the Government Equalities Office website.
Equality Act 2010: resources on XpertHR We provide a round-up of the new and updated resources from XpertHR on the Equality Act 2010, the main provisions of which came into force on 1 October 2010. This includes major changes to the equal opportunities sections of our employment law manual and model policies and documents.