The Equality Act 2010 legally protects people from discrimination in the workplace and in wider society.
It replaced previous anti-discrimination laws with a single Act, making the law easier to understand and strengthening protection in some situations. It sets out the different ways in which it’s unlawful to treat someone.
It is against the law to discriminate against anyone because of:
- being or becoming a transsexual person
- being married or in a civil partnership
- being pregnant or having a child
- race including colour, nationality, ethnic or national origin
- religion, belief or lack of religion/belief
- sexual orientation
These are called ‘protected characteristics’.
You’re protected from discrimination in these situations:
- at work
- in education
- as a consumer
- when using public services
- when buying or renting property
- as a member or guest of a private club or association
For further information about the act, visit the Equality & Human Rights Commission website.
Public Sector Equality Duty
The equality duty consists of a general duty, with three main aims (set out in section 149 of the Equality Act 2010); and specific duties (set out in the secondary legislation that accompanies the Act). The specific duties are intended to assist public bodies to meet the general duty.
The general duty has three aims.
It requires us to have due regard to the need to:
1. Eliminate unlawful discrimination, harassment and victimisation and other conduct prohibited by the Equality Act 2010
2. Advance equality of opportunity between people from different groups. This involves considering the need to:
- remove or minimise disadvantages suffered by people due to their protected characteristics
- meet the needs of people with protected characteristics
- encourage people with protected characteristics to participate in public life or in other activities where their participation is low.
3. Foster good relations between people from different groups. This involves tackling prejudice and promoting understanding between people from different groups
In order to demonstrate due regard, we are required to consider the three aims of the general duty when making decisions; for example, when:
- developing, evaluating and reviewing policies
- designing, delivering and evaluating services, including education provisions
- commissioning and procuring services from others
To comply with the general duty, we may treat some people more favourably than others, as far as this is allowed by UK and European anti-discrimination law. The general duty also explicitly recognises that disabled people’s requirements may be different from those of non-disabled people. Universities are required to take account of disabled people’s impairments and must make reasonable adjustments for disabled people.
The specific duties aim to help us perform better in meeting the equality duty.
The focus of the specific duties is transparency in how we are responding to the equality duty. It is important to note that we must meet both the equality duty and the specific duties – it is not enough to meet the specific duties alone.
There are three specific duties:
- publication of information,
- equality objectives and
- manner of publication.