Our Legal Duty

The Equality Act 2010 legally protects people from discrimination in the workplace and in wider society. 

It replaced previous anti-discrimination laws with a single Act, making the law easier to understand and strengthening protection in some situations. It sets out the different ways in which it’s unlawful to treat someone. 

Who is protected? 

The Act protects people from discrimination on the basis of 'protected characteristics'. The protected characteristics are as follows: 

  • Age 
  • Disability 
  • Gender reassignment 
  • Pregnancy and maternity 
  • Race 
  • Religion or belief 
  • Sex 
  • Sexual orientation 
  • Marriage and civil partnership 

What does the law prohibit? 

  • Direct discrimination - treating someone differently and worse than someone else because of who they are. 
  • Indirect discrimination - when there's a practice, policy or rule which applies to everyone in the same way, but it has a worse effect on some people than others because of who they are. 
  • Discrimination by association - protects a person from being discriminated against because of a third-party's protected characteristic. 
  • Discrimination by perception - discrimination against someone because they are wrongly perceived to have a certain protected characteristic, for example where an employer believes an employee is gay, or is of a particular race, and treats them less favourably as a result. 
  • Harassment - unwanted behaviour with the purpose or effect of violating your dignity, or creating a degrading, humiliating, hostile, intimidating or offensive environment. 
  • Victimisation - the action of singling someone out for cruel or unjust treatment. 

Public Sector Equality Duty (PSED)

The Equality Act 2010 introduced the Public Sector Equality Duty (PSED) on all public authorities. In fulfilling this duty the Council in all its activities must have 'due regard' to the need to: 

  • eliminate unlawful discrimination, harassment and victimisation and other conduct prohibited by the Act. 
  • advance equality of opportunity between people who share a protected characteristic and those who do not. 
  • foster good relations between people who share a protected characteristic and those who do not. 

To meet the requirements of the Equality Act 2010 and the PSED, it is the responsibility of all employees to ensure that decision making, policy setting and service delivery supports these three aims, that equalities is integrated into our day-to-day work, and that we positively contribute to the advancement of equality and good relations.  

Further information is available on the Equality and Human Rights commission site. 

In helping us to fulfil our duty, the Council undertakes Equality Impact Assessments when developing or reviewing our services, policies, strategies, practices or plans.