Public Sector Equality Duty and COVID-19

Equality

Due to COVID-19, the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) has suspended Public Sector Equality Duty reporting obligations in England for 2020.

The EHRC has stressed however, that where possible organisations are encouraged to meet these obligations if they are able to do so. It is important to note that the requirements of the general duty of the Equality Act 2010 remain in force and are critically important in ensuring that public bodies consider the needs of people with different protected characteristics as they respond to COVID-19.

In summary, the general equality duty set-out in section 149 of the Equality Act 2010 states that those subject to the general equality duty must have due regard to the need to:

  • eliminate unlawful discrimination, harassment and victimisation
  • advance equality of opportunity between different groups
  • foster good relations between different groups.

Despite this move by the EHRC, NHS Employers would like to emphasise that it is critical that the equality, diversity and inclusion implications of COVID-19 continue to be monitored and assessed during this period. We will work with key stakeholders to ensure that the COVID-19 guidance for NHS workforce leaders developed to support the NHS will include reference to the equality duties and other diversity and inclusion matters.

At a local level, any changes or new policies introduced for staff should be in line with normal practice and should also be analysed to ensure that they do not have a disproportionate impact on anyone covered by the Equality Act protected characteristics. The recent CQC equality analysis provides further insight. 

We encourage you to refer to our COVID-19 guidance for support as the pages are regularly updated and cover a range of other areas including health, safety and wellbeing and communicating with staff.

If you have any queries or require any clarification please contact the diversity and inclusion team at diversityandinclusion@nhsemployers.org.

 

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