The Equality Act includes provisions enabling a ban on age discrimination in the provision of services to be introduced. These provisions were not commenced on 1 October 2010 when the majority of the act came into force, as further work is required to ensure that these provisions are implemented in the best way for business and others involved.
GEO ran a consultation between 3 March 2011 and 25 May 2011, which provided further details about implementation of the age discrimination ban. The consultation set out those areas where we believe that different treatment of people of different ages is justified, where we think specific exceptions from the ban are necessary and how the legislation will be drafted to take account of these. The government is currently considering the responses received.
These provisions in the act do not change the civil partnership registration itself. They simply remove the legal prohibition on civil partnerships being registered on religious premises; enable regulations to be made setting out the arrangements for these premises to be approved by the local authority; and clarify that there is no obligation on faith groups to have civil partnership registrations on their premises - it is entirely voluntary. The government announced in early 2011 its intention to commence these provisions by the end of 2011. A consultation, seeking views on the practical arrangements necessary closed on 23rd June 2011. The government is currently considering the responses received.
Generally, the Equality Act prohibits discrimination in employment against people because of their sexual orientation. In certain circumstances, churches and other organised religions can choose not to appoint a person because of their sexual orientation where the job being filled is, for example, a Minister of the religion and the appointment of a gay person would conflict with the religion's doctrine or would offend a significant number of its followers. But this only applies where the job in question is closely connected to the core purpose of the organised religion. So it would not apply to the appointment of a cleaner or accountant, for example.
No. Positive discrimination means favouring someone solely because he or she has a particular protected characteristic - for example, their gender or their race. Positive discrimination is generally unlawful in the UK and there are currently no plans to change that position. However, positive action is legal and entirely voluntary, and can be taken to overcome disadvantage, meet a need or encourage participation in a certain activity.
There has never been a formal legal requirement to produce formal Equality Impact Assessments and no formal requirement exists in the new public sector Equality Duty. Public bodies have the flexibility to move away from publishing long, formulaic documents, often produced after decisions have been made, and towards genuinely focussing on delivering equal treatment and equal opportunities for all. In having due regard, there must be evidence that the relevant equality issues have been considered. This can be shown in a variety of ways, such as in the minutes of a meeting where the issue was discussed, or by the publication of the data that supported a key decision.
No. Such surveys are not a legal requirement. The Equality Duty in the Equality Act encourages councils to understand how different people will be affected by their activities, so their policies and services are appropriate and accessible to all. It is up to individual councils to decide how to go about doing this. Where surveys are used as part of this process they should be relevant, proportionate and cost effective.
The Equality Act 2010 (Specific Duties) Regulations 2011 came into force on 10 September 2011. The specific duties ensure that public bodies are transparent about how they are complying with the public sector Equality Duty. This means that public bodies will be accountable to the people and communities that they serve.
The specific duties require public bodies to publish:
- information to demonstrate their compliance with the Equality Duty, at least annually by 31 January 2012 (for schools by 6 April 2012); and
- equality objectives, at least every four years (by 6 April 2012)
Why hasn't Section 78, which would require employers to publish gender pay information, been commenced?The government has said that it will not require employers to publish information relating to the gender pay gap while it is working with business to increase transparency on a voluntary basis.
More information on the gender pay gap
- The government believes a voluntary approach will give better information and is more likely to drive positive changes. We will annually review the number of companies releasing information and its quality to make sure it is working. If not we will look at alternatives such as commencing or amending Section 78 of the act.
More information on the gender pay gap
The decision was announced in the government's Plan for Growth and in the Budget statement as one of many ways to reduce the cost of regulation on businesses. It will save businesses approximately £3 million each year.
What can I do if I have experienced discrimination because of a combination of protected characteristics?
If, for example, you are a black woman or a Muslim man, and you are unsure which protected characteristic the discrimination relates to you can still bring one or more single characteristic claims.