Recently published draft regulations and guidance have clarified the scope of the duties to promote equality imposed on public sector bodies which will come into effect from 6 April.
The Equality Act 2010 includes a list of public sector bodies under a general duty to promote equality. The range of authorities subject to this duty will be extended when a draft order, which expands the list considerably, is brought into effect. Organisations not on this list, whether public or private, will still be subject to this duty, but only when they are carrying out functions of a public nature.
A subset of the listed authorities will also be subject to a number of specific duties, relating to the publication of information and setting equality objectives. These are now set out in revised draft regulations. It is now clear that the first publication deadline for most authorities, including higher education institutions, will be 31 July. It is only school governing bodies which will benefit from a longer lead-in period; they will be given until the end of this year to publish their first set of data.
Although the full code of practice is not yet available, the Government Equalities Office has published a "quick start" guide. The Equality and Human Rights Commission has also produced a set of five guidance notes.