The public sector Equality Duty, or ‘general duty’, created under the Equality Act 2010 requires us to have a ‘due regard’ to:
- eliminating unlawful discrimination, harassment and victimisation
- advancing equality of opportunity between different groups
- fostering good relations between different groups.
The general duty is supported by two ‘specific duties’ which requires us to:
- publish information to show compliance with the equality duty every year
- publish specific and measureable equality objectives at least every four years.
Having ‘due regard’ means consciously thinking about the three aims of the Equality Duty as part of the process of decision-making. This means that consideration of equality issues must influence the decisions reached by public bodies, such as:
- how they act as employers
- how they develop
- evaluate and review policy
- how they design, deliver and evaluate services
- how they commission and procure from others.
The general duty protects people from discrimination on the basis of certain categories which are known as 'protected characteristics'. These include:
- gender reassignment
- marriage or civil partnership
- pregnancy and maternity
- religion or belief
- sexual orientation.
In addition to the nine protected characteristics above, we also include socio-economic background and carers in our equality impact assessments.
Equality impact assessments (EIAs)
As part of our equality duty, which applies to all of our work, we undertake equality impact assessments when developing policies, introducing new services or changing service delivery.