What is the Public Sector Equality Duty?
The Disability Discrimination Act 2005 introduced the Disability Equality Duty (DED) which required public authorities, including government departments, to consider how their policies and practices affect disabled people.
The Equality Act 2010 introduces the Public Sector Equality Duty which brings together the DED with other existing duties (on race and gender). It also covers age, sexual orientation, religion or belief, pregnancy and maternity, and gender reassignment. The new duty came into force on 5 April 2011.
The Duty has three aims. When developing or implementing policy, it requires public bodies to have due regard to the need to:
- eliminate discrimination, harassment and victimisation and other conduct prohibited by the Equality Act 2010
- advance equality of opportunity between people from different groups
- foster good relations between people from different groups.
‘Due regard’ means to consciously consider these three aims when making decisions about policy or practice which would affect people. For example, the duty covers:
- how a public authority acts as an employer
- how it develops policies
- how it designs and delivers services
- how it procures services
What happens if the Public Sector Equality Duty is not considered?
If a public authority fails to give due regard to the duty, it could be challenged through a judicial review made by an individual or by the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC).