3. Our equality duties
Public bodies, like the council, and others carrying out public functions, are under a duty to consider equality when making decisions. The Public Sector Equality Duty consists of a general duty and specific duties.
The General Duty
To comply with the General Duty, when making decisions we must give due regard to:
- eliminate unlawful discrimination, harassment, victimisation and any other conduct prohibited by the Act;
- advance equality of opportunity between people who share a protected characteristic and people who do not share it; and
- foster good relations between people who share a protected characteristic and people who do not share it.
Having due regard means consciously thinking about the three parts of the General Duty as part of decision-making processes, how the council develops, evaluates and reviews policy, how it redesigns and delivers services, and how it commissions and procures from others.
Complying with the General Duty may involve treating some people better than others, as far as this is allowed by discrimination law. For example, it may involve making use of an exception or the positive action provisions in order to provide a service in a way which is appropriate for people who share a protected characteristic - such as providing computer training to older people to help them access information and services.
The Specific Duties
The purpose of the Specific Duties is to help public authorities comply with the General Duty. The specific duties require public authorities to:
- publish one or more specific and measurable equality objective, at least every four years (started April 2012)
- publish information to demonstrate their compliance with the Equality Duty, at least annually by January of each year; and
- publish information in such a manner that it is accessible to the public.
Here are the steps we are currently taking to have regard to all our customers in service delivery, and the actions managers identified they would take.
We also have a duty as an employer of more than 150 staff to publish employee data on an annual basis. You can see the breakdown of staff employed by protected characteristics here.