The Equality Act 2010 simplifies the current laws and puts them all together in one piece of legislation, whilst also increasing the scope of the ‘protected characteristics’ (equality strands). All elements of the new legislation apply to the public sector and we have specific public sector duties we must fulfil. It is essential that you ensure you meet your new responsibilities.
What it means for you
The Act protects people from discrimination on the basis of ‘protected characteristics’; age, disability (definition changed), gender reassignment (definition changed), pregnancy and maternity, race (this includes ethnic or national origins), colour and nationality, religion or belief, sex and sexual orientation.
In all decision making, policy setting and service design you are expected to:
- Take due account of equality legislation
- Where there is a risk of discrimination seek to mitigate this
- Aim to eliminate the discrimination – it being incumbent to consider measures to avoid it.
- The duties are intended to remind everyone that policies and decisions can help shape a future society in which potential is not frustrated and all are treated and valued equally
All of these duties require a substantive outcome, and the failure to fulfil any of these or to protect an individual can result in legal challenge, tribunal etc. Each organisation is solely responsible for the duties and must have due regard. An organisation or individual claiming ‘non awareness’ of the duties as their defence will lose their case, as this is no defence.
Simple things that the act affects are; you can no longer ask an applicant bout their medical fitness or sickness history prior to offering then a role. This means that application forms should not ask such questions, and any such conversation should not be raised at interview unless it is in relation to reasonable adjustments for the interview or any associated assessments. You can ask about sickness and medical fitness when a conditional offer is made, and the offer can be (and should be) conditional on a work health assessment.
Please note: a revised application form and new Work Health Declaration form (part of the New Starter Form) are available on our website.
Did you know… WES has a bespoke Recruitment Service that can undertake the administration of recruitment activity and also undertake pre-employment checks on your behalf? If you would like more information on this service then please get in touch.
We are here to help
For assistance please contact the HR Administration Centre