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 Gender

What the law says

The Equality Act 2010 applies to both men and women and makes sex discrimination unlawful in employment, the provision of recreational or training facilities, Higher Education, and the provision of goods, facilities and services.

What does the Act cover in relation to employment?

The Act provides protection against sex discrimination, harassment and victimisation throughout the whole employment relationship, including:

  • ·recruitment and selection

  • ·determining pay

  • ·training and development

  • ·selection for promotion

  • ·discipline and grievances

  • ·countering bullying and harassment

Employers must give men and women equal treatment in their terms and conditions of employment if they are employed on:

  • ·like work’ i.e. work that is the same or broadly similar

  • ·work of equal value

  • work rated as equivalent through job evaluation or equivalent  

The Act also removes the secrecy clause in discussing pay and makes terms of employment or appointment that prevent or restrict discussions relating to pay unenforceable. The Act makes it unlawful for an employer to victimise employees if they discuss their pay with colleagues with a view to establishing differences in pay because of a protected characteristic i.e. gender.

What does the Act cover in relation to the provision of recreational or training facilities?

The Act provides protection against sex discrimination, harassment and victimisation in the provision of recreational or training facilities, such as sports services or clubs. Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) should not discriminate against or victimise a person in:

  •  the arrangements it makes for deciding who is provided with the facilities

  • ·the terms on which it offers to provide the facilities to the person

  • ·not accepting the person’s application for provision of the facilities

What does the Act cover in relation to Higher Education?

The Act makes it unlawful for the governing body of a HEI to discriminate or victimise a person/student because of their gender in the following ways:

  • ·in the arrangements it makes for deciding who is offered admission as a student

  •  in the terms on which it offers to admit the person as a student

  •  by not admitting the person as a student

  •  in the way it provides education for the student

  • ·in the way it affords the student access to a benefit, facility or service

  • ·by not providing education for the student

  •  by not affording the student access to a benefit, facility or service

  • ·by excluding the student

  • ·by subjecting the student to any other detriment

What does the Act cover in relation to the provision of services, goods and facilities?

HEIs provide a range of services to both staff and students, such as childcare services, libraries and careers and employment services, and as such are considered to be service providers.

The Act makes it unlawful to discriminate against, harass or victimise a person who is seeking access to or is accessing a service on the grounds of his or her sex:

  • ·in the terms of providing the service

  • ·by terminating the provision of the service

  • ·by subjecting the service user to any other detriment

What types of discrimination does the Act refer to?

Direct discrimination occurs when a person is treated (or would be treated) less favourably than another person because of his or her sex.

Associative discrimination occurs when a person is treated less favourably because they are associated with a person of a particular sex.

Perceptive discrimination occurs when a person is treated less favourably because they have been perceived, correctly or incorrectly, to be of a particular sex.

Indirect Discrimination occurs when a provision, criterion or practice is applied to all and it puts or would put a one sex at a particular disadvantage when compared with the other sex AND this cannot be shown as a proportionate means of achieving a legitimate aim.

Victimisation occurs when one person treats another less favourably than he or she treats or would treat other people in the same circumstances because the person has:

  • brought proceedings under the Act;

  • given evidence or information in connection with proceedings under the Act

  • done any other thing for the purposes of or in connection with this Act

  • made an allegation (whether or not express) that there has been a breach of the Act

 

Protection is not afforded where the person gives false evidence or information or makes an allegation or has given evidence or information in bad faith.

Harassment

The Act outlines three types of harassment:

  • unwanted conduct that has the purpose or effect of violating an individual’s dignity or creating an intimidating, hostile,   degrading, humiliating or offensive environment for that individual

  • unwanted conduct of a sexual nature (sexual harassment)

  • treating a person less favourably than another person because they have either submitted to, or did not submit to, sexual harassment or harassment related to sex or gender reassignment

 

The Act also protects against third party harassment on the grounds of sex. The University will therefore be liable for harassment of its employees by third parties, such as external contractors, unless they have taken reasonable steps to prevent it from happening. However, this liability will only apply if the University knows that the employee has been harassed on at least two previous occasions.

The General Duty

The new public sector Equality Duty will cover all of the protected characteristics apart from marriage and civil partnership and will require public sector bodies to have due regard to the need to:

  • ·eliminate unlawful discrimination, harassment and victimisation

  • ·advance equality of opportunity between different groups; and

  • ·foster good relations between different groups  

The Equality Duty is a duty on public bodies and others carrying out public functions.It ensures that public bodies consider the needs of all individuals in their day to day work – in shaping policy, in delivering services, and in relation to their own employees.

The new Equality Duty supports good decision-making – it encourages public bodies to understand how different people will be affected by their activities so that policies and services are appropriate and accessible to all and meet different people’s needs. By understanding the effect of their activities on different people, and how inclusive public services can support and open up people’s opportunities, public bodies are better placed to deliver policies and services that are efficient and effective. The Equality Duty therefore helps public bodies to deliver the Government’s overall objectives for public services.

What has changed?

The new Equality Duty replaces the three previous public sector equality duties – for race, disability and gender. The new Equality Duty covers the following protected characteristics:

  • age

  • disability

  • gender reassignment

  • pregnancy and maternity

  • race - this includes ethnic or national origins, colour or nationality

  • religion or belief - this includes lack of belief

  • sex

  • sexual orientation 

It also applies to marriage and civil partnership, but only in respect of the requirement to have due regard to the need to eliminate discrimination.

NEW SPECIFIC DUTIES TO SUPPORT THE GENERAL DUTY

On the 28th June 2011 the Government laid before Parliament for approval the Equality Act 2010 (Specific Duties) Regulations 2011. These regulations will promote the better performance of the Equality Duty by requiring those public authorities to publish:-

1) Equality objectives, at least every four years
2) Information to demonstrate their compliance with the equality duty, at least annually

The new Equality Duty is designed to reduce bureaucracy while ensuring public bodies play their part in making society fairer by tackling discrimination and providing equality of opportunity for all.

Annual Equality Report 2012 Update on progress with Gender Equality

Useful Links

Gender Equality Scheme

The Athena SWAN Charter is a scheme which recognises excellence in Science, Engineering and Technology (SET) employment for women in higher education and research. The University achieved the Athena Swan Bronze Award in 2010

The EHRC is an independent statutory body which champions equality and human rights for all and works to eliminate discrimination, reduce inequality, protect human rights and to build good relations, ensuring that everyone has a fair chance to participate in society.

The Government Equalities Office is a new self- standing Department whose mission is to put equality at the heart of government .

Acas:http://www.acas.org.uk/index.aspx?articleid=1461

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Last updated July 2012