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Employment A-Z

E

 

Equality Duty

The Public Sector General Equality Duty

The General Duty came into force in April 2011 under Section 149 of the Equality Act. It covers age, disability, gender reassignment, pregnancy and maternity, race, religion or belief, sex and sexual orientation. Those subject to the General Duty must have due regard to the need to:

  1. Eliminate unlawful discrimination, harassment and victimisation; *
  2. Advance equality of opportunity between different groups;
  3. Foster good relations between different groups.

* also covers marriage and civil partnership.

The LGA has developed an Equality Framework for Local Government to assist Authorities in assessing their progress against the general duty. There are seperate frameworks for Fire and Rescue Services and Social Housing Providers.

The Public Sector Specific Duty

The specific duties were created by secondary legislation in the form of the Equality Act 2010 (Specific Duties) Regulations 2011. The specific duties are different in England, Scotland and Wales. The information here applies in England. In summary, each listed authority is required to:

1.    Publish information to demonstrate its compliance with the general equality duty. This needed to be done for the first time by 31 January 2012 and at least annually thereafter. Schools and pupil referral units were required to do this for the first time by no later than 6 April 2012. This information must include, in particular, information relating to people who share a protected characteristic who are:

  • its employees, and

  • people affected by its policies and practices.

Public authorities with fewer than 150 employees are exempt from the requirement to publish information on their employees.

2.    Each listed authority (including schools and pupil referral units) 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 needed to be done for the first time by 6 April 2012 and at least every four years thereafter. The objectives must be specific and measurable.

Both the equality information and the equality objectives must be published in a manner that is accessible to the public. They can be published as a separate document, or within another document such as an annual report or a business plan.

The purpose of the specific duties is to help listed authorities improve their performance on the general equality duty, by improving their focus and transparency. However, complying with the specific duties does not necessarily ensure that an authority is having due regard to the aims of the general equality duty across all of its functions.