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The public sector equality duty

The public sector equality duty is laid out within the Equality Act 2010. It is about ensuring the needs of all are met. The broad purpose of the duty is to ensure that equality and good relations are issues which are robustly considered in the day-to-day business of public authorities. If an authority does not consider how its actions can or do affect different groups in different ways, it is unlikely that their actions will have the intended effect – this, in turn, can contribute to inequality and poor outcomes.

The public sector equality duty consists of:

  1. A general equality duty (which is set out in section 149 of the Equality Act 2010) and
  2. Specific duties (which are imposed by secondary legislation – The Equality Act 2010 (Specific Duties) Regulations 2011)

The general equality duty requires organisations to consider how they can positively contribute to the advancement of equality and good relations. It requires equality considerations to be reflected in the design of policies and the delivery of services, including internal policies, and for these issues to be kept under review.

Protected characteristics

The duty covers the following nine protected characteristics:

  1. Age
  2. Disability
  3. Gender reassignment
  4. Pregnancy and maternity
  5. Race
  6. Religion or belief
  7. Sex
  8. Sexual orientation
  9. Marriage and civil partnership