New Equality Duties get the green light from the National Assembly

On Tuesday 29 March, the National Assembly unanimously approved the new specific duties for Wales. These come into effect on April 6. The specific duties are designed to help public bodies to implement the GB-wide general duty effectively. The new general duty comes into effect on April 5 requires public bodies to “have due regard to” the need to eliminate unlawful discrimination, advance equality of opportunity and foster good relations between people.

Kate Bennett, National Director for Wales, Equality and Human Rights Commission, said:

We warmly welcome news that the National Assembly has passed these powerful new equality duties that will help public authorities tackle the greatest inequalities in Wales.

These duties will assist public authorities in focusing their resources where they are most needed. This will help deliver public services that meet everyone’s needs. And it will help make Wales a fairer place.

These duties will only apply in Wales. The Equality and Human Rights Commission in Wales is preparing clear guidance to make sure individuals know their rights and organisations know their responsibilities under the new duties.'

The Commission welcomes that the duties:

  • Tackle the implementation gap by focusing on outcomes
  • Encourage public authorities to involve and consult with a range of stakeholders in the shaping and delivery of services
  • Are flexible enough to allow proportionality so as not to be burdensome
  • Emphasise the importance of Equality Impact Assessments as a way of developing proposals that consider the needs of all members of the community
  • Recognise that procurement could have a considerable impact in promoting equality in the private and voluntary sectors
  • Cover the full range of devolved public bodies in Wales.

You can view the new duties on the National Assembly website, under Tuesday 29 March’s business items 8 and 9.

Context and Guidance

One of the central parts of the Equality Act 2010 was the introduction of a new GB-wide Public Sector Equality Duty.
The new Equality Duty will replace the existing duties on race, disability and gender equality, and will also cover age, sexual orientation, religion or belief, pregnancy and maternity, and gender reassignment.

The Commission has developed guidance on the specific duties for Wales and it is anticipated that these will be available in May.

There are 8 sets of guidance on the equality duty in Wales covering:

  1. The essential guide to the public sector equality duty (an overview)
  2. Equality objectives and Strategic Equality Plans
  3. Engagement
  4. Assessment of impact
  5. Equality information
  6. Employment information, equal pay and staff training
  7. Procurement
  8. Reporting, Publishing and Ministerial duties

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