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. It sets out the different ways in which it’s unlawful to treat someone.
The Act requires equal treatment for each of the nine protected characteristics:
- Pregnancy and Maternity
- Gender Reassignment
- Marriage and Civil Partnership
- Religion or Belief
- Sexual Orientation
People are also protected from discrimination if:
- They are associated with someone who has a protected characteristic, e.g. a family member or friend
- They have complained about discrimination or supported someone else’s claim
The Public Sector Equality Duty
The Public Sector Equality Duty is a sub-section of The Equality Act 2010 and was developed in order to harmonise the equality duties and to extend this across the protected characteristics for public sector organisations. The broad purpose of it is to integrate consideration of equality and diversity into the day-to-day business of public authorities. The main three aims of this duty are:
- To eliminate unlawful discrimination, harassment and victimisation and other conduct prohibited by the Act.
- To advance equality of opportunity between people who share a protected characteristic and those who do not.
- To foster good relations between people who share a protected characteristic and those who do not.
The Act also explains that in order to advance equality, public sectors must:
- Remove or minimise disadvantages suffered by people due to their protected characteristics.
- Take the steps to meet the needs of people from protected groups where these are different from the needs of other people.
- Encourage people from protected groups to participate in public life or in other activities where their participation is disproportionately low.
MTW takes the Equality Act very seriously and takes a zero-tolerance approach to all forms of discrimination, harassment and victimisation and will make every effort to ensure that no patient or employee is disadvantaged, either directly or indirectly, on the basis that they possess any of the ‘protected characteristics’. The Trust is fully committed to a policy of equality of opportunity in all its employment practices and all protected groups have equal access to employment, training and promotion opportunities.
Equality Delivery System 2 (EDS2)
The EDS2 is a system designed for NHS organisations to improve their equality performance for patients, communities and their workforce focusing on the experiences of people with protected characteristics. EDS2 has 18 outcomes which are grouped under four goals:
1) Better Health Outcomes
2) Improved Patient Access and Experience
3) A Represented and Supported Workforce
4) Inclusive Leadership.
EDS2 can help MTW respond to the Public Sector Equality Duty specifically by publishing information to demonstrate compliance and prepare and publish specific and measurable equality objectives at least every four years.
Public authorities covered by the general equality duty must ensure that:
- Decision-makers are aware of the general equality duty’s requirements.
- The general equality duty is complied with before and at the time a particular policy is under consideration and when a decision is taken.
- They consciously consider the need to do the things set out in the aims of the general equality duty as an integral part of the decision-making process.
- They have sufficient information to understand the effects of the policy, or the way a function is carried out, on the aims set out in the general equality duty.
- They review policies or decisions, for example, if the make-up of service user’s changes, as the general equality duty is a continuing duty.
- They take responsibility for complying with the general equality duty in relation to all their relevant functions. Responsibility cannot be delegated to external organisations that are carrying out public functions on their behalf.
- They consciously consider the need to do the things set out in the aims of the general equality duty not only when a policy is developed and decided upon, but when it is being implemented.
Carrying out analyses helps us to gain a real understanding of the ways in which our policies and practices affect people from different protected groups so that we can continue to improve them.