The Law

Public authorities must address their legal obligations under statutory law when developing proposals and making policy decisions. They must ensure that decisions made do not unfairly discriminate and therefore should carry out robust equality impact assessments and consult and involve relevant stakeholder as part of the decision making process.  An assessment therefore should be carried out when the policy is initiated as a central part of the policy development process.

Impact Equality is an automated online tool that assists organisations with compliance to the law and streamlines the process of carrying out equality impact assessments.

The law covers the following:

Age

Employment Equality Regulations came into force in 2006, it has been illegal to discriminate against individuals on the basis of age in employment and vocational training

Disability

The Disability Equality Duty (DED) is intended to prevent disability-related discrimination from occurring at the outset and to promote equality of opportunity for disabled people

Gender

The Gender Equality Duty (GED) presents an opportunity for gender to be considered in all areas of policy making.  The duty requires more than simply the equal treatment for men and women.

Race

The Race Relations (Amendment) Act 2000, and subsequent regulations enacted in 2001, require local authorities to promote race equality through a general duty

Religion or Belief

The Employment Equality (Religion or Belief) Regulations 2003 protect employees from discrimination because of their actual or perceived religion or belief.

Sexual Orientation

The Employment Equality (Sexual Orientation) Regulations  outlaw discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation

The role equality impact assessments has to play in helping organisations meet their legal duties has become more clear from recent case law and the prominence courts now seem to be expecting.  Judgements made in the following cases:

·        Elias v Secretary of State for Defence (2005)

·        Bapio v Secretary of State for the Home Secretary (2007)

·        Eisai Ltd v NICE 2007

·        Chavda v L B Harrow (2008)

·        Rota E v JFS; R ota E v Adjudicator 2008

·        R v Southall Black Sister 2008

The evidence produced has to demonstrate that real consideration would have been given to the legal duty.  Also courts will infer no such consideration where there is no written record proving it. In R v Southall Black Sisters the court reiterated the importance of carrying out an impact assessment before policy formulation.  Impact Equality enables local authorities to demonstrate proof that real consideration has been given to the legal duty.

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"Legal cases against local authorities for non-compliance to completing equality impact assessments is on the increase"

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