The Public Sector Equality Duty (PSED), part of the Equality Act, came into force in April 2011. It requires organisations to eliminate unlawful discrimination, advance equality of opportunity, and foster good relations.
About the Public Sector Equality Duty
The duty has a key role to play in making sure that fairness is at the heart of public bodies’ work and that public services meet the needs of different groups. It covers a range of public bodies, including schools, NHS organisations, government departments, local authorities, and police authorities.
The duty replaces the three former duties that required government departments, local authorities and other public bodies to take into account gender, race and disability equality both as employers and when making policy decisions and delivering services. The duty standardises this requirement and also extends it to cover age, marriage and civil partnership, religion or belief, sexual orientation, pregnancy and maternity and gender reassignment.
The General Equality Duty
Section 149(1) of the Equality Act 2010 puts various requirements on schools when exercising their functions. The general duty requires schools to have due regard to:
eliminate discrimination, harassment and victimisation and other conduct prohibited under the Act
advance equality of opportunity between persons who share a relevant protected characteristic and persons who do not share it
foster good relations between persons who share a relevant protected characteristic and persons who do not share it.
Having due regard means consciously thinking about the three aims of the PSED as part of the process of decision-making. This means that consideration of equality issues must influence the decisions reached by schools, such as:
how they act as employers
how they develop, evaluate and review policy
how they design, deliver and evaluate services
how they commission and procure from others.
The specific equality duties In addition to the PSED, Section 153 of the Act gives the government powers to impose specific duties on certain public bodies to help them perform the PSED more effectively.
To help public bodies perform the public sector Equality Duty (PSED) more effectively, regulations were approved in Parliament on the 6 September 2011 that introduce two specific duties.
The duties mean that schools are required to: publish information to demonstrate compliance with the PSED at least annually starting from 31 January 2012 prepare and publish equality objectives at least every four years starting from 6 April 2012.