Equality Act 2010
The Equality Act 2010 (the Act) provides a new cross-cutting legislative framework to protect the rights of individuals and advance equality of opportunity for all; to update, simplify and strengthen the previous legislation; and to deliver a simple, modern and accessible framework of discrimination law which protects individuals from unfair treatment and promotes a fair and more equal society.
The Act is a major simplification of discrimination legislation that makes the law easier to understand and comply with and delivers significant benefits for business, public bodies and individuals. Section 149 of the Act came into force on 5 April 2011 and imposes a duty (the ‘general duty’) on public bodies, including National Park Authorities, to:
- eliminate discrimination, harassment, victimisation and any other conduct that is prohibited by or under the Act;
- advance equality of opportunity between persons who share a relevant protected characteristic and persons who do not share it; and
- foster good relations between persons who share a relevant protected characteristic and persons who do not share it.
The Equality Duty does not require public bodies to take disproportionate action on equality. Public bodies are expected to take a proportionate approach when complying with the Equality Duty – in practice, this means giving greater consideration to the Equality Duty where a function or policy has the potential to have a substantial effect on discrimination or equality of opportunity for the public or the public body’s employees, and less consideration where the potential effect on equality is slight.
Sections 153(1) and 154(2) of the Act permit a Minister of the Crown to impose, by way of regulations, specific duties on public authorities. Following two periods of consultation the Equality Act (Specific Duties) Regulations 2011 came into force on 10 September 2011.
In compliance with the Specific Duties, the Authority is expected to publish one or more objectives it thinks it should achieve in pursuance of the general duty. The Authority does this through its Business Plan
The Authority must also publish information to demonstrate its compliance with the duty imposed by Section 149 (1) of the Act (the General Duty). The information must be published not later than 31 January 2012 and subsequently at intervals not greater than 1 year. In order to be transparent in this process the Authority has developed an Equality and Sustainability Impact Assessment so that the environment, economy and people are considered together. Only in this way can we best deliver a sustainable and equal future. All policies and decisions of the Authority will be supported through careful consideration of the impact on all sections of society and copies of the assessments will be available to view in compliance with the requirement to publish information. A summary report will be presented to the Audit and Governance Committee in November each year.
As the Authority has fewer than 150 employees there is no requirement to publish information regarding its employees.