As a requirement of the Equality Act 2010, the impact decisions will have on different members of society must be considered. This is known as the Public Sector Equality Duty (General Duty) and states that due regard must be given to it. In order to do that, the following 3 aims must be consciously considered by officers and members throughout the proposal setting and decision making process.
The three aims are to:
- eliminate unlawful discrimination, harassment, victimisation and any other conduct prohibited by the Act;
- advance equality of opportunity between people who share a protected characteristic and people who do not share
- foster good relations between people who share a protected characteristic and people who do not share it
As well as the General Duty, there is also a Specific Duty. This states that:
- The above information must be published; and
- Equality objectives must be prepared and published
This means we should clearly state who we've engaged with, what their concerns were, what the impact might be upon them, and what our objectives are as a result of this.
What does this mean in practice?
- due regard: the consideration of equality issues must influence all decisions reached by public bodies
(at the time that the policy or decision is under consideration, not retrospectively)
- advance equality of opportunity: consider 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 the participation is low
- fostering good relations: tackling prejudice and promoting understanding between people who share a protected characteristic and others
What are the protected characteristics?
- Gender Reassignment (transitioning from one gender to another)
- Marriage and Civil Partnership (ensuring equality of treatment for married and civilly partnered couples)
- Pregnancy and maternity (specifically maternity leave in the employment context and applies for 26 weeks after giving birth. Also includes treating a woman unfavourably because she is breastfeeding)
- Religion and belief (including lack of belief)
- Sexual orientation
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