Equality and Human Rights

A quick guide to the public sector equality duties

Section 149 of the UK Government’s Equality Act 2010 creates a single equality duty for the public sector in England, Wales and Scotland. The general equality duty came into force on 5 April 2011 and requires public authorities, and any organisation carrying out functions of a public nature, to consider the needs of groups of people with different characteristics (gender, disability, sexuality etc) for example, when delivering services and in employment practices.

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General public sector equality duty

Section 149 of the UK Government’s Equality Act 2010 creates a single equality duty for the public sector in England, Wales and Scotland. The general equality duty came into force on 5 April 2011 and requires public authorities, and any organisation carrying out functions of a public nature, to consider the needs of groups of people with different characteristics (gender, disability, sexuality etc) for example, when delivering services and in employment practices.

The general duty requires public authorities to have due regard to the need to:

  • Eliminate discrimination, harassment and victimisation;
  • Advance equality of opportunity between different groups; and
  • Foster good relations between different groups.

Specific public sector equality duties

Section 153 of the Act gives Ministers in England, Wales and Scotland the power to impose specific duties through regulations. The specific duties are legal requirements designed to help public authorities meet the general duty.

The specific duties for Wales have been in force since 6 April 2011, and include obligations such as producing equality objectives, producing Strategic Equality Plans and collecting equality information (among others).

The Assembly’s Communities, Equality and Local Government Committee is currently undertaking an inquiry into the future of equality and human rights in Wales. For more information, see the Committee’s website.


Article by Hannah Johnson, National Assembly for Wales Research Service.