general equality duty

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Is a legal obligation on all public authorities in the UK to promote equality in relation to gender, race/ethnicity, and disability. It covers the services that public authorities provide, the staff they employ and the procurement of goods, works, and services. In addition to the general duty, the legislation lays down some specific equality duties that establish how public authorities should meet their obligations under the general duty. The duties are enforced by the Equality and Human Rights Commission. The duty applies to public authorities, which includes public sector employers and private and voluntary organizations that carry out public functions (e.g. a private security firm that operates a prison). The failure to impose duties on all employers has been attacked by critics of the legislation. Nevertheless, the creation of the equality duties marks a significant step in UK equality and discrimination law. The main emphasis in enforcing the law in the past has lain with individuals who were given rights to take a case to an employment tribunal if they experienced discrimination. The new body of law changes the emphasis and targets the more powerful party to the employment relationship, the employer. Public employers are now required to be proactive and have a positive duty to promote equality and eliminate discrimination. [See disability equality duty, gender equality duty, and race equality duty.]

Subjects: Human Resource Management.

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