The Equality Act (statutory duties) became law in October 2010. The Act replaces previous legislation (such as the Race Relations Act 1976 and the Disability Discrimination Act 1995) and ensures consistency in what is needed to make the workplace a fair environment and to comply with the law.
The Equality Act 2010 requires the University to meet the Public sector equality duty - ‘general duty’, which states that HEIs will need to have ‘due regard’ to:
- eliminate unlawful discrimination, harassment and victimisation
- advance equality of opportunity between people who do and do not share a protected characteristic
- foster good relations between people who share a protected characteristic and those who do not share a protected characteristic.
The Equality Duty covers 9 protected characteristics:
On 28 June 2011 the Equality Act (Specific Duties) Regulations 2011 were put before Parliament for approval. Since then, the Home Office announced that there would be a debate on the Public Sector Equality Duty, Specific Duties for England in the House of Lords. Parliamentary approval of the Specific Duties came into force on 10 September 2011. The Specific Duties require HEIs to publish:
- One or more equality objectives by 6 April 2012, and thereafter updated at least every four years. Equality objectives must be specific and measurable and relate to the achievement of the equality duty.
- Information to demonstrate their compliance with the equality duty by 31 January 2012 and thereafter, at least annually.