The Equality and Human Rights Commission has published new guidance today on the public sector equality duty (PSED) under the Equality Act, which will help public authorities encourage good relations, promote equality and eliminate discrimination in the workplace and in delivering public services.
The Equality Act 2010, consolidates protection against discrimination on the grounds of age, disability, gender reassignment, pregnancy and maternity, race, religion or belief, sex and sexual orientation. It also put in place a new public sector equality duty, which gives public authorities a legal responsibility to provide this protection and make decisions which are fair and transparent, including the allocation of public money.
The guidance gives a straightforward but comprehensive explanation of how public authorities – both as employers and service providers – should comply with the duty, as well as practical advice on how to do so.
For example, the guidance makes it clear that equality should be taken into account in all decision making where the duty is relevant. It also explains that as a matter of good practice, public authorities should keep records demonstrating how they have complied with the duty.
While this guidance is not a statutory Code of Practice, it can be used as evidence in legal proceedings. The courts have said that a body subject to the equality duty that does not follow non-statutory guidance such as this will need to justify why it has not done so. However, such guidance does not in itself impose further duties to those set out in the statute.
For further information regarding this and to read the editors notes, please visit the EHRC website.