Public sector equality duty
The general equality duty requires all public bodies – including universities – to have due regard to the need to
- Eliminate unlawful discrimination, harassment and victimisation and other conduct prohibited by the Equality Act;
- Advance equality of opportunity between people who share a protected characteristic and those who do not;
- Foster good relations between people who share a protected characteristic and those who do not.
The duty covers all the protected characteristics apart from marriage and civil partnership, for which public bodies will only have to demonstrate due regard to the need to eliminate unlawful discrimination in employment.
Under the specific duties for England, all public bodies are required to publish information by 31 January each year to demonstrate how they have complied with the general duty. They must also set themselves one or more equality objectives which they think they should achieve in order to fulfil one or more of the aims of the duty. At least one objective must be published by 6 April 2012 and new objectives are required at intervals of no greater than four years. The government intends to review the operation of the specific duties midway through this period.
The Equality and Human Rights Commission has published an ‘Essential guide to the public sector equality duty’ together with detailed guides on individual aspects of the duty, including
- Meeting the equality duty in policy and decision-making
- Collecting and publishing equality information
- Setting equality objectives
- Engagement with people with protected characteristics.
The guidance is available to download from the ‘Guidance on the equality duty’ page on the EHRC website.
How is Oxford meeting the public sector equality duty?
Publishing equality information
Setting equality objectives