The Equality Act became law in October 2010 and provides a cross-cutting legislative framework to protect the rights of individuals. It repeats previous legislation, such as the Race Relations Act 1976 and the Disability Discrimination Act 1995 etc.
The Equality Act 2010 brings together nine equality strands and over 100 smaller pieces of legislation under one Act and extends the list of protected characteristics to:
- Gender re-assignment
- Religion and belief
- Marriage and civil partnership
- Pregnancy and maternity
- Sexual orientation
Like previous equality legislation the Equality Act is in two parts, a general duty and a specific duty.
The general duty
The general duty requires the Council to gave due regard to the need to eliminate unlawful discrimination, advance equality of opportunity, and foster good relations across all of the protected characteristics protected by the Equality Act 2010.
The specific duty
The general duty is supported by specific duties to help the Council comply with the Equality Act 2010. The Scottish Government published draft specific duties following a public consultation.
On the 8 March 2011 the Scottish Parliament's Equal Opportunities Committee voted against introducing the proposed specific duties. as a result, on 5 April 2011 the new general duty came into force.
With the effect from the 5 April 2011 the Council with other public bodies in Scotland, are no longer subject to any specific duties. However, the Scottish Government will undertake further consultation and make regulations to impose new specific duties later this year.
In the meantime, the Scottish Government has stated that it expects the Council to continue to embed equality into their work and to build on the systems and good practice which have been developed from the current duties.
The Government Equalities Office (GEO)
Implementation of the Equality Act began on October 2010, the GEO has published a series of summary guides and 'Quick Start' guides to the key changes in the law. These guides have been produced in partnership with the British Chambers of Commerce, Citizen Advice, ACAS, and the Equality and Diversity Forum, to support implementation of the Act. Please see the GEO website for more information.
Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC)
The EHRC have published interim advice on the Equality Act Scottish specific duties, which can be viewed via their website.
Consultation on Revised Draft Regulation
On the 9 September 2011, the Scottish Government launched its consultation on the revised draft regulations for the public sector equality duty (specific duties).
Context of the Consultation
Public authorities in Scotland employ thousands of people and provide services and support to millions of people on key matters such as housing, education, policing, social work and health. What they do and how they do it is therefore important and influential.
The Public Sector Equality Duty is designed to assist public authorities to ensure their services and practices take account of people’s different needs and experiences and have regard to the elimination of unlawful discrimination, the promotion of equality and the fostering for good relations.
The new Public Sector Equality Duty is part of the UK Government’s Equality Act 2010 which came into force on 5 April 2011. Scottish Ministers intend to make ‘specific duties’ which will enable its better performance.
The purpose of this consultation is to seek views of stakeholders and members of the public on revision of provision for specific duties to be made through Regulations.
The consultation seeks views on the draft Regulations specifically in relation to the following points:
- Equality Outcomes
- Impact Assessment
- Employment Monitoring and Reporting
The revised draft Regulations can be viewed and response to the consultation via the Scottish Government's website. A link to the website can be found under the external links section.
Please remember the consultation deadline: 25 November 2011