The Government has launched a quick start guide to the specific equality duties, which are designed to support the general duty to further equality of opportunity. The specific equality duties in England are set out in regulations which require most larger public authorities to publish information to demonstrate their compliance with the general duty by 31 January 2012, and to publish equality objectives by 6 April next year.
The guide – as its name suggests – is only brief. More detail will be contained in a statutory code of practice and accompanying guidance which is still to be published by the Equality and Human Rights Commission, though neither it nor the Government has committed to the exact timetable. From an employment angle, what the guide says about the obligation to publish information about employees is particularly interesting. This duty, which applies to authorities with 150 or more employees, embraces not only diversity and monitoring statistics, but information on pay equality. There is no help in the guide on how this complex issue is best addressed, and we will have to wait for the code of practice to find out more.