What the Law Says
Equality Act 2010
The Equality Act 2010 brought more than 116 separate pieces of legislation into one single Act. The Act aims to simplify, strengthen and harmonise previous legislation, providing a new discrimination law which protects individuals from unfair treatment and promotes a fair and more equal society.
A summary and useful guidance on different aspects of the Act are available on the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) website:
Specific Public Sector Equality Duties
The Equality Act 2010 (Specific Duties) Regulations 2011 (the Regulations) came into force on 10 September 2011. The Regulations set out the specific public sector equality duties that certain public bodies must comply with.
The aim of the specific duties is to help public bodies comply with the general duty to promote equality in the workplace contained in the Equality Act 2010, which has been in force since 5 April 2011.
General Equality Duty
The general single equality duty requires public bodies, in the exercise of their functions, to have due regard to the need to eliminate discrimination, harassment and victimisation, advance equality of opportunity and foster good relations between those who share or have different protected characteristics.
The duty explains that having due regard for advancing equality involves:
- Removing or minimising disadvantages suffered by people due to their protected characteristics
- Taking steps to meet the needs of people from protected groups where these are different from the needs of other people
- Encouraging people from protected groups to participate in public life or in other activities where their participation is disproportionately low.
Human Rights Act 1998
The relevant articles for employment are article 8, which guarantees privacy for someone’s home life and correspondence and which underpins the Data Protection Act. Articles 10 and 11 guarantee freedom of expression, association and assembly.
Individuals who consider they have been a victim of a human rights violation should not have to suffer further difficulties.
The Equality Act 2010 identifies nine protected characteristics, which cannot be used as a reason to treat people unfairly.
Every person has one or more of the protected characteristics, so the act protects everyone against unfair treatment. The protected characteristics are:
- gender reassignment
- marriage and civil partnership
- pregnancy and maternity
- religion or belief
- sexual orientation
The Equality Act sets out the different ways in which it is unlawful to treat someone, such as direct and indirect discrimination, harassment, victimisation and failing to make a reasonable adjustment for a disabled person.
The act prohibits unfair treatment in the workplace, when providing goods, facilities and services, when exercising public functions, in the disposal and management of premises, in education and by associations (such as private clubs).
A more in-depth definition of these protective characteristics can be viewed on the Office of Public Sector Information website and on the Home Office website:
What is Equality and Diversity?
Equality – The College’s approach to equality is focused on everyone being treated fairly, removing barriers to success, participation and that equality is not about treating everyone the same but recognising that equality of opportunity requires the College to respond to different needs to achieve the same outcomes, free from discrimination and harassment.
Diversity – is about respecting, valuing and celebrating aspects that make us unique as individuals – recognising that we contribute because of these aspects, not in spite of them.
- Useful Information
Contacts and Links
ACAS www.acas.org.uk Age Positive (DWP) www.dwp.gov.uk/age-positive Age UK www.ageuk.org.uk Carers UK www.carersuk.org Changing Faces www.changingfaces.org.uk Disability Discrimination Information www.disability.gov.uk Friends, Families and Travellers www.gypsy-traveller.org Gender Trust www.gendertrust.org.uk HEAR www.hear.org.uk Just Fight On – Against workplace bullying and abuse www.jfo.org.uk Mankind – Support of Men Victims of DV www.mankind.org.uk Press for Change http://www.pfc.org.uk Race on the Agenda (ROTA) http://www.rota.org.uk Royal National Institute for Blind People (RNIB) http://www.rnib.org.uk Royal National Institute for Deaf People (RNID) – Now called: Action on Hearing Loss http://www.actiononhearingloss.org.uk Stonewall – The lesbian, gay and bisexual charity www.stonewall.org.uk