Previously known as an Equality Impact Assessment – it is a process that provides evidence to help you to understand the impact of your existing services, activities and functions and any plans for future services activities and functions, on different types of people. It will enable you to answer the question ‘’what will happen or not happen if we do things this way?’’  The aim is to ensure that we plan, develop and deliver inclusive approaches and services, and that we promote equality and positive relationships between people in the communities where we work.

Who has protected characteristics, what does this mean?

These are set out in the Equality Act 2010, and are called people with a ‘protected characteristic’ or ‘protected groups’ – that is protected from unlawful discrimination, harassment, or victimisation.  The law protects everyone.  The protected characteristics are:

  1. race
  2. gender
  3. disability
  4. sexual orientation
  5. gender re-assignment
  6. age
  7. religion or belief
  8. pregnancy and maternity
  9. marriage and civil partnership

How does the Public Sector Equality Duty affect ‘unlisted’ bodies?

The Equality Act 2010 placed a duty on public bodies which is called the Public Sector Equality Duty and is set out in section 149 of the Act.  The duty has two parts to it – the general duty which applies to all public bodies, including those who carry out public functions, sometimes on behalf of public bodies – and the specific duties – which applies only to ‘listed’ bodies.  The listed bodies include local authorities, health bodies, education bodies including schools, the police, fire and transport bodies, government departments and their agencies.    

An ‘unlisted’ body is covered by the general duty only, in relation to the public functions that it performs.  This means those functions that are carried out on behalf of a listed body, or those that receive public funding.  It will also apply where or if is exercising powers assigned to it by statute, where it is providing a public service and where its work is closely related to a delegating listed body.

The Duty states:

Those subject to the equality duty must, in the exercise of their functions, 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’’.

The Act also states that having due regard for advancing equality involves:

  • Removing or minimising disadvantages suffered by people due to their protected characteristics
  • Taking steps to meet the needs of people from protected groups where these are different from the needs of other people
  • Encouraging people from protected groups to participate where their level of participation is disproportionately low’’

The duty covers all the protected characteristics listed above, except marriage and civil partnership is only considered in relation to eliminating unlawful discrimination.

When should organisations do EAs?

At the planning stage and before the decision is taken to implement all future policies, approaches, projects, services and functions that affect people and communities and relationships.  When you plan to update, change or remove a service, policy, approach or function.