Equality Bill update: government responds to consultation on specific duties
ECU update on the proposals for specific duties
On 25 January 2010, the government published their response to the consultation on the specific duties. Equality Bill: Making it work - Policy proposals for specific duties outlines proposed specific duties and future work the government is planning to undertake in this area.
At this stage the specific duties are only proposals. There will be further consultation on the draft regulations for the specific duties if the Equality Bill is granted royal assent.
Setting, consulting on and reviewing equality objectives
- There will no longer be a legal requirement to produce equality schemes. However, higher education institutions (HEIs) will need to develop and publish equality objectives with reference to relevant evidence, and publicly set out the steps they intend to take to achieve them.
To identify and develop equality objectives, HEIs will need to review all functions and gather evidence relating to all the protected characteristics and across all the limbs of the General Duty.
- Evidence may include information gathered through consulting and involving people from protected groups.
- Not all protected characteristics or functions will require an objective if there is no evidence for it. However, HEIs will need to be able to provide evidence as to why they have not set an equality objective for a particular protected characteristic.
- National equality objectives will be agreed by government and disseminated to public bodies. While HEIs must be able to demonstrate that they have taken the national equality priorities into account, this does not mean that they are required to adopt them.
Demonstrating how the impact on equality has been assessed
- HEIs will need to assess and demonstrate the impact on equality in the design of key policy and service delivery initiatives across all the characteristics protected under the Equality Duty.
- Legislation will not prescribe the steps by which impact is assessed.
- HEIs will need to publish their gender pay gap figures and their employment rates for black and minority ethnic staff and disabled staff.
- HEIs will need to proactively consider the equality requirements of every contract they tender.
- If it is relevant and proportionate, HEIs will need to consider including equality-related award criteria or contract conditions.
The government intends to work with the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) to produce guidance on areas including:
- The type and range of evidence expected for different types of public body across different protected characteristics.
- How public bodies should assess impact across all protected characteristics, when to do so, and what 'key' policy and service delivery initiatives are suitable for a full assessment.
- Consultation and involvement and how each fits into equality objective setting, action planning and review
The EHRC intends to produce Statutory Codes of Practice to accompany the Equality Duty. ECU is being consulted on relevant parts of these codes.
The latest news, guidance, questions and information on ECU's work relating to the Equality Bill can be found on ECU's dedicated Equality Bill section.