Over the last four decades, discrimination legislation has played an important role in helping to make Britain a more equal society. However, the legislation was complex and, despite the progress that has been made, inequality and discrimination persist and progress on some issues has been stubbornly slow.
The Equality Act 2010 provides a new cross-cutting legislative framework to protect the rights of individuals and advance equality of opportunity for all; to update, simplify and strengthen the previous legislation; and to deliver a simple, modern and accessible framework of discrimination law which protects individuals from unfair treatment and promotes a fair and more equal society.
The Act came into force on 1 October 2010 and consolidates over 116 separate pieces of legislation into one single Act. Combined, they make up a new Act that provides a legal framework to protect the rights of individuals and advance equality of opportunity for all.
The Act simplifies, strengthens and harmonises previous equality legislation to provide England with discrimination law which protects individuals from unfair treatment and promotes a fair and more equal society. It is the primary reference point in relation to discrimination, harassment and equality in the workplace in relation to access to and provision of services.
The nine main pieces of legislation that have merged are:
* the Equal Pay Act 1970
* the Sex Discrimination Act 1975
* the Race Relations Act 1976
* the Disability Discrimination Act 1995
* the Employment Equality (Religion or Belief) Regulations 2003
* the Employment Equality (Sexual Orientation) Regulations 2003
* the Employment Equality (Age) Regulations 2006
* the Equality Act 2006, Part 2
* the Equality Act (Sexual Orientation) Regulations 2007
The Equality Act 2010 consists of a general equality duty, otherwise known as the Public Sector Equality Duty (PSED), which requires the Trust in the exercise of its functions to have due regard to the need to:
1. Eliminate unlawful discrimination, harassment and victimisation and other conduct prohibited by the Act.
2. Advance equality of opportunity between people who share a protected characteristic and those who do not.
3. Foster good relations between people who share a protected characteristic and those who do not.
Nine groups are protected through the Equality Act 2010 known as ‘protected characteristics’ and include age, disability, gender reassignment, marriage and civil partnership, pregnancy and maternity, race, religion or belief, sex and sexual orientation.
To comply with the general equality duty, secondary legislation by way of specific duties regulations states the Trust must:
1. Publish equality information to demonstrate its compliance with the general equality annually.
2. Prepare and publish one or more equality objectives that address the most pressing inequalities and further any of the aims of the general equality duty at least every four years.
Equality and Diversity in the Trust
The Trust’s Equality & Inclusion Group provides the strategic framework to oversee the compliance and monitoring arrangements specified within the public sector equality duty as well as the implementation and delivery of a range of equality priorities and actions within Trust services impacting service users, staff and carers.