Equality Act 2010

Background

On 1 October 2010 the majority of the Equality Act 2010 came into force. This has harmonised and amended definitions of discrimination, introduced new concepts of protected characteristics and new forms of discrimination.

There are now 9 protected characteristics, which were previously known as equality strands. These are:

  • age
  • disability
  • gender reassignment
  • pregnancy and maternity
  • marriage and civil partnership
  • race
  • religion and belief
  • sex
  • sexual orientation

Public sector equality duty

The Equality Act also introduced a public sector equality duty which came into force on 6 April 2011. The equality duty ensures that all public bodies play their part in making society fairer by tackling discrimination and providing equal opportunities for all.

The equality duty is a duty on public bodies and others carrying out public functions. It ensures that public bodies like Cheltenham Borough Council consider the needs of all individuals in their day to day work – in shaping policy, in delivering services, and in relation to our own employees.

The new equality duty should support good decision-making by encouraging public bodies to understand how different people will be affected by their activities so that policies and services are appropriate and accessible to all and meet different people’s needs. By understanding the effect of their activities on different people, and how inclusive public services can support and open up people’s opportunities, public bodies are better placed to deliver policies and services that are efficient and effective.

The equality duty is set out in section 149 of the act.

What does Cheltenham Borough Council have to do?

When we carry out our work, we must be mindful of the need 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
  • foster good relations between people who share a protected characteristic and those who do not

This is called the "general duty".

We also have two specific duties to comply with:

  1. We must publish information annually to demonstrate our compliance with the general Equality Duty in relation to both our employees and people who are affected by our policies and services.
  2. We must set and publish equality objectives every four years