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The Equality Duties
On this page you can download the UCU Public Sector Equality Duty Toolkit, as well as a guide to the specific duties in Wales, plus briefings on the Scottish duties and Section 75 (Northern Ireland). The TUC has also produced its own toolkit, also available below.
The Public Sector Equality Duty came into force on 5th April 2011 and is supported by specific duties. These came into force in England on 10th September 2011.
As you will know your employers were previously subject to three separate equality duties relating to race, disability and gender equality. Each was underpinned by further duties in secondary legislation (specific duties) with different features, timescales and reporting requirements.
Section 149 of the Equality Act 2010 consolidates and harmonises the race, gender and disability duties into one and has extended coverage of the duty to age, gender reassignment, religion or belief, pregnancy and maternity and sexual orientation.
In England the specific duties regulations required institutions to publish:
Devolved nations and Northern Ireland
Although the Equality Duty applies to England, Scotland and Wales, Scotland and Wales are able to set their own specific duties. The specific duties in Wales came into force on 6 April 2011, and the in Scotland on 27 May 2012. The Equality Duty does not apply to Northern Ireland, but Northern Ireland has separate similar equality legislation required under Section 75 of the Northern Ireland act.
The UCU Equality Committee are keen to receive examples of how branches are using the new duty, what the response has been from employers and examples of good and poor practice. The Government will be reviewing the new duty in two years time. UCU needs to monitor and evaluate the impact of the new duty so we can submit strong evidence to the review. Please send your experiences and any agreement to Helen Carr, Head of Equality email@example.com
Equality Duty Resources
Please find below a model letter to request details of how your institution is complying with the specific public sector equality duties in England. The letter can be adapted and sent to the person responsible for leading on your institution's public sector equality duties. Please note that Scottish and Welsh specific duties differ to those in England, and Northern Ireland has separate legislation. The Scottish guidance above contains a model letter that can be sent to Scottish institutions.
Equality Impact Assessments
EIA's are mandatory in Scotland and Wales. Although they are no longer mandatory in England, UCU is committed to ensuring that all institutions conduct EIA's as the best way of fulfilling their legal obligation to demonstrate "due regard" to the equality duty.
This UCU motion was passed overwhelmingly at the 2010 TUC, and was welcomed by other trade unions as a positive and practical step in the campaign for equality and the campaign against cuts including redundancies and reorganisations:
Congress believes that:
Equality should be at the heart of all trade union collective bargaining and is an essential pre-requisite to protect rights to services within the public sector.
Congress notes that:
1. Public sector employers have a statutory duty to conduct Equality Impact Assessments (EIAs)
2. EIAs have the potential to identify potential discriminatory effects of an employer's policies, procedures and practices
3. many higher education institutions and further education colleges have not rigorously carried out EIAs
4. use of EIAs across the public sector is not widespread.
The weakness of the Equality Act and the lack of any detail on the new equality duties.
Congress calls upon the general council to:
1. continue to raise awareness among the membership of the TUC as to the importance of EIAs
2. encourage affiliates to gain official recognition of the role of Equality Officer in their collective bargaining with employers
3. organise a campaign through affiliates within the public sector to conduct comprehensive and effective EIAs placing pressure on both government and employers
4. urge affiliates to campaign to ensure the new specific duties within the Equality Act are more advantageous and effective than previous provisions and mount a vigorous campaign to remedy the equality deficit in trade union collective bargaining.
You can download a pro-forma for conducting Equality Impact Assessments below:
There are a range of Equality Challenge Unit resources and guides to conducting Equality Impact Assessments here
Briefings on the Equality Act can be found on the main Equality Act page.
For more information about anything on this page, please email the web editor