Equality Act 2010

The Equality Act came into force on 1 October 2010 and brings separate pieces of legislation into one single Act.

The Act provides a legal framework to protect the rights of individuals and advance equality of opportunity for all.

Public Sector Equality Duty

The Equality Act introduced the Public Sector Equality Duty (PSED) which requires the council, in the exercise of their functions to have due regard to:

  • Eliminate unlawful discrimination, harassment and victimisation and other conduct prohibited by the Act.
  • Advance equality of opportunity between people who share a protected characteristic and those who do not; and
  • Foster good relations between people who share a protected characteristic and those who do not.

These are sometimes referred to as the three aims or arms of the general equality duty. The Act 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.

The Act states that meeting different needs involves taking steps to take account of disabled people's disabilities.

It describes fostering good relations as tackling prejudice and promoting understanding between people from different groups.

It states that compliance with the duty may involve treating some people more favourably than others.

Protected characteristics

The equality duty covers the nine protected characteristics which are as follows:  

  • Age
  • Disability
  • Gender reassignment
  • Marriage and civil partnership
  • Pregnancy and maternity
  • Race
  • Religion or belief
  • Sex
  • Sexual orientation.