Equality Legislation

Graphic of scales of justice

Equality Act 2010

The equality bill received royal assent of 8 April 2010, becoming the Equality Act 2010.  It came into effect in October 2010. The Aim of the Act is to reform and harmonise discrimination law, bringing together previous legislation and to strengthen it to support progress on equality.

The Equality Act 2010 replaced, among others, the Disability Discrimination Act (the 'DDA') and also the Race Relations Act.

The Equality Act brings in protected characteristics as the grounds upon which discrimination is unlawful with respect to employment, education, training and the provision of goods and services.  The protected characteristics under the Act are:

  • Age

  • Disability

  • Gender reassignment (under Transgender in Specific Equality Issues)

  • Pregnancy and maternity (under Gender in Specific Equality Issues)

  • Race

  • Religion or belief

  • Sex (under Gender in Specific Equality Issues)

  • Sexual orientation

The Act also applies to marriage and civil partnership but only in terms of the need to eliminate discrimination in employment.

For more information, support and guidance around any of the areas covered by the protected characteristics visit Specific Equality Issues.

For a more detailed summary of the changes to the legislation and the implications for the University, including the definitions of the types of discrimination and specific issues relating to particular characteristics, refer to the document below:

A summary of the changes relating specifically to disability can be found in the following document:

Public Sector Equality Duty

The Equality Act 2010 brought in a new Public Sector Equality Duty (PSED) which consists of general and specific duties.  It became law on 5 April 2011.

The general duty covers all protected characteristics apart from marriage and civil partnership and has three aims.  It requires us as a higher education institution to have due regard to the need to:

  • Eliminate unlawful discrimination, harassment and victimisation and other conduct prohibited by the Act. This means:

    • ensuring there is no less favourable treatment for protected groups

    • ensuring no factors give rise to indirect discrimination.

  • Advance equality of opportunity between people from different groups.  This involves:

    • removing or minimising disadvantages suffered by people due to their protected characteristics

    • meet the needs of people with protected characteristics

    • encourage people from protected groups to participate in public life or in other activities where their participation is disproportionately low.

  • Foster good relations between people from different groups.  This involves:

    • tackling prejudice

    • promoting understanding between people from different groups.

Having due regard means consciously thinking about the three aims of the general duty as part of the process of decision making.

Third Parties

Any third parties exercising public functions are required to comply with the duty. The duty rests with the University even if we have delegated any functions to a third party.

Public Sector Specific Duties

The specific duties regulations require higher education institutions to publish the following:

  • Objectives which must be specific and measurable and relate to the achievement of the equality duty. 

  • Information to demonstrate their compliance with the equality duty

The information that higher education institutions are required to publish must relate to employees and others affected by their policies and practices, such as students and other service users, who share a relevant protected characteristic.