The Equality Act brings together for the first time all the legal requirements on equality that the private, public and voluntary sectors needs to follow. It affects equality law at work and in delivering all sorts of services. It replaces all the existing equality law including:
- The Equal Pay Act 1970
- The Sex Discrimination Act 1975
- The Race Relations Act 1976
- The Disability Discrimination Act 1995
Who the law protects
- Whether at work as an employee or in using a service, the purpose of the Equality Act is that everyone has the right to be treated fairly at work or when using services
- It protects people from discrimination on the basis of certain characteristics
What the law protects against:
- Treating a person worse than someone else because of a protected characteristic (known as direct discrimination). Although in the case of pregnancy and maternity direct discrimination, this can occur if they have protected characteristic without needing to compare treatment to someone else.
- Putting in place a rule or way of doing things that has a worse impact on someone with a protected characteristic than someone without one, when this cannot be objectively justified (known as indirect discrimination).
- Treating a person unfavourably because of something connected with their disability when this cannot be justified (known as discrimination arising from disability).
- Failing to make reasonable adjustments for disabled people
- Unwanted conduct which has the purpose or effect or violating someone’s dignity or which is hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive to someone with a protected characteristic or in a way that is sexual in nature
Treating someone unfavourably because they have taken (or might be taking) action under the Equality Act or supporting somebody who is doing so.
As well as these characteristics the law also protects people from being discriminated against:
- By someone who wrongly perceives them to have one of the protected characteristics
- Because they are associated with someone who has a protected characteristic. This includes the parent of a disabled child or adult or someone else who is caring for a disabled person.
The Equality Act 2010 (Specific Duties) (Scotland) Regulations 2012 came into force on May 2012. These specific duties are designed to help public sector organisations meet the general duty effectively.
The key duties are that the Council must:-
- Report on mainstreaming equality
- Publish equality outcomes and report on progress
- Assess and review policies and practices
- Gather and use employment information
- Publish gender pay gap information
- Publish statements on equal pay
- Consider award criteria and conditions in relation to public procurement
The Equality Outcomes the Council has identified cover all of the protected characteristics. It should be noted that through a program of service self-assessments and improvement planning, the Council will continue to identify initiatives to support and mainstream equality further within the organisation. Any further improvements will be reported in council publications, performance reporting and in the progress report due by 30th April 2015.
The outcomes highlight the priorities for the next four years. The monitoring of progress towards these outcomes will be continuous over this period.
For reporting purposes, the list of outcomes consists of all equality outcomes for Argyll and Bute Council, for both the Local Authority and the Education Authority.
As part of the specific duties, the Council has published the Equality outcomes and mainstreaming report and is required to publish a progress report by 30th April 2015 and every two years thereafter.
Subject to Committee approval, these are the new Equality Outcomes for Argyll and Bute Council replacing those published in April 2013.
- More people are actively engaged in local decision making
- More people are confident that service delivery is sensitive to their needs
- Carers are more confident that their needs are recognised
- People who use social care are more confident that their personal outcomes are being recognised because they feel they are at the centre of decision making about their lives and the supports that are in place
- The gap in educational attainment between people with protected characteristics has been reduced
- Bullying of children and young people in schools is reduced
- Our approach to engagement reflects the diversity of all our communities